House Passes Colorado Option to Lower Premiums, Create New Insurance Option

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The House recently passed the Colorado Health Insurance Option by a vote of 40-23. The bill would significantly lower health insurance premiums on the individual and small group markets and create a new option for consumers to save Coloradans money and increase access to health care.

“Today, the House passed historic legislation to save Coloradans and small businesses 18 percent on their health insurance and create a new choice for consumers,” said Rep. Dylan Roberts, D-Avon. “For the Coloradans who avoid going to the doctor or hospital because they can’t afford health care, particularly for those who live in the mountains and rural Colorado where prices are so high, this bill is a giant step forward that will reduce the cost of care and increase competition. I am so proud the Colorado House took this bold step today to help people save money on health care and increase access to quality care.”

“Every Coloradan should have access to an affordable health insurance plan that covers the services they need, and soon they will,” said Rep. Iman Jodah, D-Aurora. “There is substantial evidence that Black and Brown Coloradans face worse health outcomes because they don’t have access to an affordable insurance option. The Colorado Option will improve health equity by increasing access for Black and Brown Coloradans to affordable insurance products so no one has to go without the care they need.”

Before the pandemic, 20 percent of Coloradans struggled to afford the cost of health care or went without care because they couldn’t afford it. One in six Colorado counties has only one health insurance carrier on the individual market. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed gaps in the state’s health system and exacerbated existing inequities that have only made it harder for Coloradans to access affordable care.

HB21-1232 will bring more affordable health insurance options to Coloradans in the individual and small group market. This proposal provides the health care industry an opportunity to work collaboratively to reduce their premiums and allows them to innovate and figure out how to do that. Health insurance carriers would be required to bring premiums down by 18 percent over three years.

The bill requires health insurance carriers to offer a standardized health plan, meaning Colorado consumers will have a new insurance option that covers the services they need at a lower cost. The standardized plan must address historical health inequities, and it will lower out-of-pocket costs for consumers. The plan would be offered in both the small group and individual markets, increasing access and affordability for small businesses who choose to offer a health benefit. The proposal ensures industry participation and accountability by creating Colorado’s first Insurance Consumer Ombudsman and public hearing process to ensure affordability and access targets are met.

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