GLENWOOD SPRINGS — According to Connect For Health Colorado, this state’s organization signing people up for the Affordable Care Act (or ACA, otherwise known as Obamacare), the state had signed up approximately 43,000 people on the new insurance marketplace, fewer than 700 of whom were from Garfield, Eagle and Pitkin counties, as of Dec. 23.
The national health care reform effort, spearheaded by President Barack Obama, had gotten off to a rocky start in Colorado, as it had in the rest of the country, when it came time for people to start signing up on Oct. 1.
Residents of Garfield, Pitkin, Eagle and Summit counties learned just before the insurance marketplaces opened, in a Sept. 24 story in the Post Independent, that they would be paying much higher insurance premiums than their neighbors in other parts of the state because the Colorado Insurance Commission had lumped those four counties into a special “resort rating” area that called for residents to pay higher premiums.
In some cases, the premiums for “resort” areas were as much as twice as high as premiums in other parts of the state, which prompted an immediate outcry from residents and government officials connected to those areas once the news was made public.
The mismatch between premiums paid by residents of the four “resort” counties caused U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, a Democrat, to call for a waiver of the resort classification for at least Summit County, which is partially in his district.
In Garfield County, the county commissioners announced their displeasure with the placement of their county with Pitkin, Eagle and Summit, which are far wealthier counties.
Officials with the ACA and Connect For Health Colorado have said they cannot adjust the rating areas now, but must wait until some time in 2014 to do so.
This has prompted concerns that, since the ACA is designed to build from a “base year” of premium levels in 2014, the four counties might be locked into the higher premiums no matter what happens.