Last year, as a provision of the health care reform law, Colorado got $1 million in federal money to help pay for a more thorough health insurance rate review process. Soon afterwards, the Colorado Division of Insurance released an extensive FAQ page detailing how the rate review process works. Now the Colorado DOI is taking things a step further with a website that will allow Colorado residents to comment on proposed rate changes during the first 30 days after the rate change request is filed with the DOI.
The Colorado DOI website regarding rate changes is a great resource for residents looking for general information about rate increases or for specific information about their own health insurance carrier or one that they are considering as an alternative. It includes a page where you can choose any health insurance carrier doing business in Colorado, and see the carrier’s rate filing history during whatever time frame you pick (starting January 1, 2011). To try it out, I selected Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield (individual products) and the entire 2011 year, which showed me four entries. One was just an actuarial review, one was a rate decrease (filed in March and approved by the DOI), and two were for rate increases that were just filed at the end of August and are currently being reviewed. It’s good to be able to see this information in an easy-to-understand public forum, although it would be helpful if the site also showed which specific products are associated with each rate filing, either with a link that consumers can click on, or another entry in the spreadsheet.
The DOI website also has a tab where consumers will soon be able to sign up to receive email alerts when their health insurance carrier files a rate change. This should help boost public participation in the rate review discussion, and add to the general understanding of how the rate review process works. The DOI is obviously working hard to create as much transparency as possible with regards to rate increases. Rates will continue to increase as long as the cost of health care continues to climb (and as long as we continue to increase our utilization of health care) but at least the logic behind the rate increases will be more clear.