State leaders praise Colorado Option’s equity-focused plan design process


Eli Kirshbaum


As Colorado’s executive branch works to develop the standardized plan design for the Colorado Option, the bill’s primary House sponsor Rep. Dylan Roberts (D – Avon) says the plan’s equity-focused design process is “one of the most exciting things about the bill.”

“We’ve put a lot of work into this standardized plan model because we wanted to take into account what we know is a problem, which is health equity in various parts of the state. [We’re] focusing on the true health needs of our citizens whether they’re in rural Colorado, in metro Colorado, or somewhere in between, and also taking into account socioeconomic and ethnicity health needs.”


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Roberts and Kyle Brown, deputy insurance commissioner for the Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI), praised the initiative’s emphasis on racial equity at the 2021 Colorado State of Reform Health Policy Conference last week.

Brown said the plan accounts for racial health equity in two central ways: having a plan design that incentivizes services that help underserved individuals through cost-sharing structures and having a culturally responsive network that reflects the community it serves.

“[DOI is] designing a network that is culturally responsive to the community that it serves and has a provider network that, to the extent possible, is reflective of that community. That’s really a unique requirement.”

The Division released draft regulations for both the standardized plan design (read more about this draft here) and the culturally responsive network this month to gather public comment from stakeholders.

The state is required to design the plan using an equity lens, with the bill requiring DOI to:

“Have a standardized benefit design that is created through a stakeholder engagement process, has a defined benefit design and cost sharing that improves access and affordability, and is designed to improve racial health equity and decrease racial health disparities.”

Since HB 1232’s passage in June, DOI has been holding meetings with the public to receive input from various virtual stakeholder groups about what they want to see in the standardized plan design. The next such meeting is scheduled for Nov. 4th. DOI is required to finalize the standardized plan design by Jan. 1, 2022.

In addition to informational meetings providing updates on its work to implement HB 1232, DOI has also held meetings to address the needs of specific stakeholder groups, including health insurance companies, rural communities, and consumer advocates.

Roberts also noted positive remarks he’s received from his constituents about the community-conscious Colorado Option.

“I’ve already heard from a lot of constituents who are going to benefit from this, and that’s what this is really all about, is giving more people access to the great benefit of health insurance coverage so that they can go see their doctor, so they don’t have to worry about not being able to afford to get the care that they need.”