Feds approve change to Colorado ACA health rate zones | PostIndependent.com

Feds approve change to Colorado ACA health rate zones

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has approved a plan to change Colorado’s health insurance geographic rate zones, which will do away on Jan. 1 with the higher-cost resort rating area that included four mountain counties.

The shift will move Garfield, Eagle, Pitkin and Summit counties into a much larger rating area that includes most of Colorado’s Western Slope, with the exception of Mesa County, which will remain one of the state’s seven metropolitan statistical areas.

Instead of 11 rating areas under the current arrangement, the state will have nine separate rating areas, including two rural areas, one for the western part of the state and another for the non-urban eastern and south-central counties.

The Colorado Division of Insurance sought the change at the request of public officials and residents from the four resort counties, who had objected to a rating system that resulted in the most expensive health insurance premiums in the country under the Affordable Care Act, due to the often-higher cost of health care in the resort areas.

Garfield County commissioners had threatened to sue the state if the zones weren’t revised.

“These larger rating areas spread the risk and costs of health care over a larger population,” Colorado Insurance Commissioner Marguerite Salazar said in a prepared statement. “This is the most equitable way of working towards stable premiums in all regions of the state.”

Due to the change, the Division of Insurance has extended its deadline from May 15 until June 6 for insurance carriers to provide plans and ranges for 2015. This should allow time for insurance carriers to adjust to the new rating areas, Salazar said.

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