Last month, the Colorado Division of Insurance released a report on health insurance in the state, and it is definitely be a good read for anyone interested in how health insurance works in Colorado. There are all sorts of interesting facts included. For example, only a third of Coloradans are covered by a health insurance policy that is regulated by the Division of Insurance. The rest are either covered by a self-insured employer plan or a government plan, or are uninsured. […]
[…] It remains to be seen how health care reform will actually impact the breakdown of individual versus group health insurance. Currently, there are far more people with group coverage than individual policies. The balance might shift a bit as health care reform takes effect, but I doubt that there will be a mass exodus away from group plans in favor of individual coverage.
[…] The problem is that health insurance companies are paying for care with premium dollars collected from insureds, and as costs go up, so do premiums. Until we shift our attitude to a “less is more” mentality, we’re going to continue to see an increase in the cost of care, and subsequently in the cost of health insurance. But it’s not just about money. Articles like Maggie’s should give us a reason to question excessive screening and testing, simply from a standpoint of having a better quality of life. The fact that it could drive down health care costs is a bonus.
[…] The premium costs that are often tossed around represent group premiums, which are partially (sometime completely) paid by employers. Once individual health insurance becomes guaranteed issue in 2014, the premiums will likely rise to cover the cost of paying for pre-existing conditions. The only way to offset this rate hike is for more healthy people to join the insurance pool. That’s where the mandate comes in, and hopefully it will work.
Colorado Governor Ritter signed a bill yesterday requiring individual health insurance carriers to charge the same prices for women and men. Colorado House Bill 1008 would go into effect January 1, 2011, and would require that gender no longer be used to set prices on individual health insurance policies that begin or renew on or after that date. So by the end of 2011, we can assume that pretty much every policy in Colorado will be impacted, as nearly all policies renew annually. […]
[…] Perhaps the question we should be asking is not who should be paying for healthcare, but rather, why in the world are we paying so much in the first place? Health insurance premiums will continue to rise as long as health care costs do the same. It won’t do any good to try to address premiums without first figuring out why we’re paying so much for our health care in the first place, and doing something about it.
Gary VanderArk and Gretchen Hammer, president and executive director of the Colorado Coalition for the Medically Underserved, have written an opinion piece for the Denver Post about how health care reform will benefit the people of Colorado. I agree with their analysis – there will be a lot positive changes once health care reform takes effect, especially for low-income Coloradans and those who are currently uninsured […]
[…] I think that perhaps the WSJ article confused average group health insurance premiums with those in the individual market. Under current law, which allows for medical underwriting in most states, individual health insurance is significantly less expensive than group coverage – for those who can qualify based on medical history. If we end up with reform that adds additional mandatory coverage (like maternity care) to all individual policies and requires coverage to be guaranteed issue without mandating that everyone be part of the insurance pool, we might well end up with premiums for individual policies that are similar to what was mentioned in the WSJ article. But for now, individual health insurance premiums aren’t even close to that amount.
Across the US, employers will see a 9% increase in health insurance premiums next year. But in Colorado, the increase will be an average of 11.8%. The Lockton Group has released its 2010 Colorado Employer Benefits Survey Report, and it indicates that Colorado will see bigger premium increases than the country as a whole. This puts Colorado businesses at a disadvantage in terms of direct operating expenses, as health insurance makes up a large portion of business overhead. It also makes it harder for Colorado businesses to compete for the best employees, since premium increases are being passed along to employees in the form of higher premiums and fewer benefits. Not surprisingly, Colorado businesses are much less likely to offer pricey HMOs than they were a decade ago (32% now, versus 89% in 2000), and far more of them are offering HSA qualified, high deductible health insurance policies (which have lower premiums) for their employees (27% now, versus only 3% in 2003).
Colorado residents tend to be healthier than the average American. We’re thinner, and have lower incidence of hypertension and diabetes than most of the rest of the country. So why would health insurance rates be rising faster here than in the rest of the country? My guess is that it has something to do our higher-than-average percentage of the population without health insurance. 17.2% of Colorado residents are uninsured, compared with national numbers that tend to be in the 15 – 16% range. When uninsured patients are treated by our health care providers (emergency rooms are a good example of this), the providers have to recoup their losses somehow. This usually translates into higher reimbursement rates being negotiated with health insurance companies. The insurance companies pass on their higher costs to customers in the form of higher premiums and/or reduced benefits. […]