Introducing the Colorado Health Insurance Option

CML Newsletter
February 28, 2020

By Colorado Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera

As policymakers, we should be proud of the progress we have made over the past decade to expand access to health care. By expanding Medicaid and setting up a health exchange — also known as the individual market — we have been able to cut Colorado’s uninsured rate from 16% to 6.5%. But Coloradans still struggle to afford care. One in five Coloradans forgo needed health care due to cost, and one in three are unable to afford their prescription drugs. As a four-time cancer survivor, I was lucky to beat cancer without going broke in the process. But it should not come down to luck. Everyone should be able to afford the care they need. That is why our administration is laser-focused on reducing costs in the health care system.

Through our reinsurance program, which has cut premiums on the individual market by an average of 20%, ending network surprise billing, increasing hospital transparency, and tackling the high cost of prescription drugs, we have already made significant progress. But health care costs will not continue to go down on their own. We need to keep working at it. 

That is why we are working with the legislature to develop a Colorado Health Insurance Option to help reduce costs even more. This proposal will offer a more affordable plan by reducing insurance company administrative costs, passing pharmacy rebates on to consumers through premium savings, and bringing some sanity to out-of-control prices at mega hospital systems while protecting independent, rural, and critical access hospitals.

We estimate that this proposal — which will be offered on the state’s individual market and eventually also on the small-group market — will save Coloradans an estimated 7%–19% on their premiums.