Price questions prompt Colorado insurance tour

GREELEY — A quarter-million Coloradans have gotten health insurance cancellation notices; many are complaining about higher premiums in many rural areas; and a new poll reflects deep skepticism in the state about the new health care law.

State insurance officials launched a road tour on Monday in Greeley to address some of those issues. But it seems few people were interested in hearing explanations. The handful of confused insurance shoppers who did attend found dozens of empty chairs at the meeting.

Other meetings are planned in southern Colorado and on the Western Slope, where officials have complained their rates are unfairly high.

State Insurance Commissioner Marguerite Salazar greeted the anemic crowd in Greeley with bright points about the new insurance regulations, such as insurance companies not being allowed to reject customers who are already sick. The law, she said, aims to make health insurance more affordable and accessible.

In response to complaints about the new insurance framework, especially confusion about canceled plans and geographic price differences, Salazar said, “A lot of things came about that maybe weren’t considered early on, were unintended consequences.”

State officials announced earlier this month that nearly 250,000 Coloradans have received insurance cancellation notices because of the new law.

And at the meeting, Salazar explained that health insurers set rates based in part in geography and called it a fairer method than giving everyone in the state the same rates, regardless of how expensive health care is in certain areas.

For example, Garfield County officials have complained that they’re included in a high-cost “resort” area, not lower-cost areas to the west. Salazar pointed out that if Garfield County were moved to a lower-cost rating region, premiums would simply go up for their neighbors remaining in the “resort” area.

“We have a lot of complaints from the resort areas. And we truly have to explain that those hospitals do cost a lot more,” Salazar said.


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