Draft state option report receives push back from hospital association

On Monday, the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing (HCPF) released a draft report detailing design proposals for the state’s public insurance coverage option. The report highlights how a state public option would be implemented. 

The following are key findings in the report: 

Plans will be administered by insurance companies and sold on Connect for Health Colorado. All Coloradans are able to purchase the public option, but will not have to finance the public option. Rather, private insurance carriers will cover the cost. 

 

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If the federal government approves Colorado’s application for a 1332 waiver, the state will utilize premium tax credit funding to make sure the plans are affordable and provide more benefits to consumers. 

In its current form, all essential health benefits would be covered by the plan. Additional services like dental are pending federal approval. 

HCPF estimates that the public option could save Coloradans anywhere from 9-18% on health care premium costs annually. Out-of-pocket costs are also expected to decrease with the addition of a federal waiver. Consumer savings are estimated to be anywhere from $69-$133 million. 

“This is the impact of adjusting reimbursements to 175%-225% of Medicare from the current rate of approximately 289% of Medicare being paid by insurance carriers in the individual market,” the report explains in regard to cost savings. 

In response to the draft proposal, the Colorado Hospital Association issued a press release stating, in part: 

“After initial review, Colorado Hospital Association has concerns with the state’s draft report on public option. While CHA and its member hospitals and health systems supported House Bill 19-1004 during the legislative session and the legislators that brought the idea forward, and we appreciate the work by the Polis Administration to develop this plan, there are several components that give us cause for concern.”

The Association expressed concern about the public option creating damage for the current health care market. 

“…by opening this public option to all Coloradans, there is the potential to significantly damage the health insurance market in our state. The way the plan is drafted, patients could choose to leave their current coverage to choose the public option, which could destabilize the current health insurance market.”

The stakeholder process is ongoing, and HCPF, along with the Department of Insurance, are accepting public comments. A State Advisory Board is being created to continue public hearings on the state option. 

The public option will be available for consumers on January 1, 2022.