Colorado: Patients want more transparency in health insurance

Health Insurance in Colorado Going Up 20 Percent

Patients in Colorado can expect to pay as much as 40 percent more for their health insurance. Statewide, patients will be hit with an average health insurance rate hike of between 20 to 25 percent.

“I think there’s certainly going to be some sticker shock,” Jeff Bontrager of the Colorado Health Institute, told Colorado Public Radio.

The worst health insurance hikes will be felt in a handful of counties. According to Fox 21 News:

  • Patients in El Paso County will see health insurance rate hikes between 21 and 29 percent.
  • Patients in Pueblo County will see health insurance rate hikes between 16 and 20 percent.
  • Patients in Chaffee County will see health insurance rate hikes of up to 42 percent.

Patients Rising’s Take: Coloradans want health plans to disclose why they won’t cover certain treatments

“Insurers cannot operate under the belief that a patient must fail first on lower-cost medications before agreeing to provide therapies doctors prescribe,” says Jonathan Wilcox, our co-founder and policy director. “Like everyone else, insurers should be held accountable for these decisions and must act with transparency.”

He adds, “Emerging before our eyes is a practice causing real harm to patients – the denial of critical medicines by health insurers. Coloradans are paying their premiums, but when a medical necessity arises, their insurers are increasingly saying no.”

“If a patient is in the position to fight, argue and remain adamant in the face of insurer denials, they may eventually obtain access to what their doctors recommend. Unfortunately, many patients accept these decisions; already fighting for their lives, they don’t need one more enemy to combat.”

Colorado Health Insurance: Less choice, higher costs

The Associated Press reported last month that “Coloradans will have less choice in 2017 in the state health insurance exchange than in any year since the program began in 2014.”

Nearly 100,000 patients in Colorado will lose their current health plan. Patients in 14 counties in Colorado will have only one health insurance option: Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Just two years ago, every patient in Colorado had three health insurance companies to choose from on the individual marketplace.

“It could be a tough open enrollment when people wake up to these prices and are seeing them for the first time,” health care expert Joe Hanel told CBS 4 Denver.

Colorado’s Health Care Priorities

Overall, Coloradans say their top health care priorities for politicians and government officials should be managing premium increases, lowering co-pays and deductibles and holding insurance companies accountable. An overwhelming 89 percent of patients in Colorado say it’s somewhat or very important for health plans to disclose how often and why they decide to deny coverage of doctor-prescribed treatments.

A recent nationwide study by the Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease found:

  • 28 percent of Coloradans say their health insurance coverage is getting worse
  • 44 percent of patients in Colorado have seen their costs increase
  • 19 percent of Coloradans said the treatment their doctor recommended was not covered by insurance
  • 22 percent said the treatment of someone they know was not covered

Think about that for a moment. One in five and almost one in four patients have been denied treatments their doctor prescribes.

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