State won’t change ACA rate zones this year |

State won’t change ACA rate zones this year

Staff Report

In response to concerns about higher premiums in some areas of the state, the Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI) will launch a study of health care costs, which the division terms the "key driver of premiums in Colorado."

The study follows a decision by the DOI not to make changes to Colorado's current 11 geographic rating areas for individual and small group health insurance for 2015.

The division placed Garfield County in the Resort rating zone, which has the highest health insurance premiums in the state under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The geographic areas are one of four factors that health insurance companies can use to set plan premiums, according to the division.

"We are pleased so many more people are gaining access to health insurance under the ACA," said Insurance Commissioner Marguerite Salazar. "However, we heard from many people who were surprised by the differences in premiums in different areas of the state. A review of health care costs and their drivers is an important and logical next step to gaining a greater understanding of this issue."

The aim of DOI's health costs study will be the collection of data, looking for variation in costs from region to region and why they occur, according to a prepared statement from the division.

"For this study, the DOI will gather a diverse group of stakeholders including representatives of hospitals, health care providers, insurance carriers and the pharmaceutical industry," according to the statement.

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Meanwhile, geographic ratings will stay the same in 2015.

"We looked at a variety of different options, but any changes for 2015 would have to be based on new data so we could justify them to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services," Salazar said. "Because there is no new data available, we could not recommend changes for next year."