In the first Section 1332 waiver approved under the Biden administration, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved Colorado’s extension request for its reinsurance program for 2022 through 2026 on Friday.
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Governor Jared Polis praised the approval in a statement released on Friday.
“As Colorado builds back better from this pandemic, we continue to be focused on saving people money on health care and delivering real results. Secretary Becerra and CMS Administrator Brooks-LaSure’s approval of the bipartisan reinsurance program will allow more Coloradans to save money on health care and put it towards groceries, a vacation and every day needs.”
The program — authorized by HB 19-1168 — was initially approved for two years in 2019, and implementation began in January of 2020. The Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI) applied for an extension of its 1332 waiver in April of 2021.
Michael Conway, Colorado’s insurance commissioner and a prominent supporter of the program, celebrated the approval of his extension request in a statement.
“I could not be prouder of the team at the Division that made this extension happen so that we can continue our commitment to help people throughout the State afford access to health care. The reinsurance program has been a key component in making individual health insurance more affordable in Colorado, and now we have the approval to continue it for five more years.”
The program has lowered health insurance premiums in the state considerably since its implementation. In 2021, premiums decreased by around 1.4% compared to 2020, and were an average of 20.8% less than they would have been without the program.
DOI recently released preliminary individual plans and premium information for 2022, which show a predicted 24.1% savings on premiums for 2022 (compared to what rates would be without the program). These, however, only reflect the rates that health plans have requested, not what DOI has approved. After continuing to review filings during the summer and fall, DOI plans to release approved 2022 plans and premiums in October of 2021.
The reinsurance program lowers health care costs by paying for parts of high-cost medical claims in the state, allowing health plans to lower their premiums. Advocates against implementing a state-run public health insurance option in Colorado have pointed to the reinsurance program as a proven successful alternative for lowering health insurance costs in the state.