The Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI) has recently approved a health insurance premium increase plan for 2015, and to the surprise of many Coloradans, these increases will be unusually low. The DOI reviewed 1,072 health insurance plans offered by 20 different carriers, and the average premium increase for individuals and small businesses across the state will be 1.18% . All of the percentages discussed are in comparison to the past year’s premium rates, and the planned increases will take place over the course of the next year.
According to The Denver Post, rural areas like West Slope and Eastern Plains, which typically have the highest health insurance premiums in the state, may see decreases in their 2015 premiums by as much as 7.44%; this decrease is the result of the DOI’s decision to consolidate rural rating areas, as well as successful negotiations with carriers and healthcare providers.
Condensed urban areas, on the other hand, have historically received much lower premiums than rural areas, and people in these areas will see their premiums rise by as much as 5.26%. Overall, the average increase statewide will amount to 1.18%, with individual plan premiums increasing by an average of .71%, and small business plan premiums increasing by an average of 2.54%.
The Colorado Insurance Commissioner, Marguerite Salazar, has stated that the DOI is “pleased to see that our health insurance market is so competitive, especially compared to the other states that have released their 2015 rate information.” Nevertheless, the DOI is urging Coloradans to research different insurance plans and carefully select the one that seems most beneficial. The 1.18% increase is only the average change across the state, and individuals are encouraged to remember that premiums will vary depending on carrier and state region.
Regardless, Coloradans are welcoming this uncharacteristically low premium increase, and news of the rate changes comes not a moment too soon. Currently, health officials are warning Colorado hospitals to prepare for a potential Ebola outbreak, and the CDC is investigating a neurologic illness — perhaps related to respiratory problems and potentially causing paralysis — that has already affected 10 children throughout Colorado. Now, more so than ever before, people are looking for alternative (and affordable) medical facilities that are a safe distance from hospitals.
With over 6,800 urgent care centers in the U.S. today, it’s likely that more patients will seek medical treatment at these freestanding facilities, should the CDC continue issuing warnings about disease outbreaks in Colorado. The news of lower insurance premiums is welcome news in this case; the majority of urgent care centers accept insurance plans, and they’re able to minimize exposure to illnesses of other patients by promising shorter waiting and appointment times for patients.
Regardless of whether or not Colorado hospitals will actually end up treating Ebola patients and/or more children with the aforementioned mystery disease, it’s clear that lowering insurance premiums is an effective way to make sure that more people have access to healthcare if and when a disaster does strike.