Colorado Option’s promise to cut insurance rates has not been fulfilled

I’ve long avoided using the adage “You can’t have your cake and eat it too” because I don’t like cake – pie is all a dessert should be – but there is few other catchy ways to describe what happens when someone tries to achieve two mutually exclusive goals at the same time.

In this case, the state government is trying to reduce health insurance premiums while increasing benefits. It doesn’t count as anyone who’s taken a math course knows. Colorado politicians want to have their cake and eat it too.

In a month, I will lose my health insurance plan because the carrier leaves the state and I will pay more in monthly premiums, regardless of the plan I choose. On average, insurance costs will increase by 10.4% next year. Every year since 2019, Colorado lawmakers have passed new
hedging mandates that have driven up the cost of premiums in the retail market by 5.5-7.9% per year.

I don’t need acupuncture, gender reassignment plastic surgery, HIV prevention drugs or any of these new benefits and yet I pay for the extra coverage. Lawmakers promised lower-premium insurance plans would be more available when they passed the much-publicized Colorado Option Bill HB21-1232 last session. Health insurers in individual and small group markets are required by law to offer a standardized, low-cost health benefit plan that meets stipulations set by law and the state insurance commissioner. Plans must reduce their premiums by 5% in 2023, 2024 and 2025 for a total reduction of 15% from the baseline.

Lawmakers were so confident of success that the Polis campaign touted the legislation as one of more than 100 ways the administration was saving money in Colorados. It turns out that’s not the case. Cheapest Plans in State Healthcare Exchange Aren’t Colorado Option
plans but rather plans designed by the carrier.

That’s because Colorado Option plans require more “free” benefits such as nonpreventive primary care and mental health and addictions visits than traditional plans while forcing insurers to lower premiums. These are mutually exclusive objectives since more
benefits require higher premiums to cover additional costs.

In addition to coverage mandates, the government has imposed several unnecessary and intrusive requirements on insurers. Insurance companies should strive to create “a network that is culturally appropriate and, to the extent possible, reflects the diversity of its enrollees in terms of race, ethnicity, gender identity and orientation sex in the area where the network exists”.

This means that they must recruit medical providers based on their physical characteristics and gender identity so that these providers match the insured population. Some employees will have to be responsible for this unnecessary exercise and this cost will be incorporated into the bonus.
Frankly, I don’t need a medical professional like me; I am happy with another human who is good at his job.

Colorado Option’s promise to cut insurance rates has not been fulfilled

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