No Colorado Health Insurance Rate Information Yet

UPDATE, 8pm 5/22/13.  I went back and tried the DOI rate filings site, and was able to see recent entries depicted for some carriers (submitted 5/14, so presumably they are the rates for not-yet-released products to be sold in the marketplace).  Unfortunately, all that is visible is the filing date, with no additional information.

May 15th was the deadline for health insurance carriers in Colorado to submit rates for new plans that will be sold in the individual and small group markets in Colorado, both in and outside of the exchange/marketplace (Connect for Health Colorado).  Much has been said about today – May 22nd – being the date when those rates are available to the public, and there has been a lot of anticipation about getting to find out what health insurance premiums are going to look like next year in Colorado.  We know that in the Pacific Northwest, rates have come in lower than expected, attributed partially to the “heavy competition” in the WA and OR marketplaces (9 and 12 insurers, respectively).  Colorado has even more competition than that, with 19 different carriers submitting rates for plans to be sold through Connect for Health Colorado and on the open market (I’ve seen other reports that say 17 carriers, but either way, it will be a robustly competitive market – just as we’ve always had in Colorado).  UPDATE:  A Kaiser Health News article from 6pm indicates that there are 11 carriers that have submitted rates and policies to sell their products only within Connect for Health Colorado.  17 carriers have submitted proposals to sell both inside and outside of the exchange. UPDATE, 5/23:  The issue of how many carriers and policies will be available in the exchange has caused a lot of confusion over the last couple days.  CCHI‘s Dede de Percin clarified this for us today: “17 carriers filed 813 products, but only 11 carriers and 250-something products are in the Exchange – the rest are *outside* or off exchange.”

No Colorado Health Insurance Rate Information YetThere has been much speculation about what the new rates will look like.  9News did a piece last week that highlighted the concerns that rates – particularly in the individual market – could be much higher next year.  Over the last year or so, in talking with knowledgeable representatives from the various health insurance carriers (who are themselves talking with knowledgeable actuaries), we’ve heard predictions that range from rate decreases for older policy-holders to rates more than doubling for younger insureds… and just about everything in between.  So we are very curious to see how things look once the DOI releases rates.

Today’s the day that those rates are scheduled to be made public, but I doubt that things will be particularly clear anytime soon.  The Colorado Division of Insurance released an FAQ guide today, and while it clarifies the role of the DOI in reviewing rates, it probably doesn’t answer many questions for people who are wondering about actual premiums.  With regards to whether premiums are expected to be higher or lower than current premiums, the DOI notes that “A comparison to current or previous plans is not an apples-to-apples comparison and DOI will not try to establish equivalency to existing plans or premiums.”  They also make it very clear that the premiums that are to be posted today will not be the final premiums.

Whether or not those premiums will actually be posted at all today remains to be seen.  I’ve tried several times to access the premium rate filings on the DOI site this morning, and have found no data for any of the top carriers in the state.  Although we don’t yet know which are the 19 carriers that have filed rates, I assume that the current top carriers are probably included.  Everything I’m seeing is previous rates (mostly from March of this year or earlier), and the dollar amounts are listed as zero.  After playing around with the website to no avail for a while, I came across a Denver Post article that describes technical problems delaying the release of the rates.  So I’ll check back in a few days.

But even once the rates are published, we still won’t know the final rates.  The DOI will still be reviewing the hundreds of submitted plans and rates for the next two months (that should be finalized by the end of July).  And they’ve clearly stated that they will not be focusing on comparing new rates with existing rates, since the plans will be different from what we have now.  And of course the subsidies will have a significant impact on the final rates that families and individuals actually pay out of pocket for their health insurance.  Two people, the same age, living in the same area, covered by the same plan, could be paying two completely different premiums depending on their income level. (Subsidy Calculator)

We’ll continue to check in on the rates on the DOI site, and we’ll add a new post with updates once we have some numbers.  Even though they’ll still be preliminary, I’m sure that there are a lot of people who are interested in seeing them.

About Louise Norris

Louise Norris has been writing about health insurance and healthcare reform since 2006. In addition to the Colorado Health Insurance Insider, she also writes for healthinsurance.org, medicareresources.org, Verywell, Spark by ADP, and Boost by ADP, and Gusto. Follow on twitter and facebook.

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