Colorado Option’s Big Test: Open Enrollment

by | Dec 7, 2022 | Health

Critics declared Colorado’s new quasi-public option a failure this fall, before it was even available for purchase on the state’s Affordable Care Act health insurance marketplace. They seized on an October announcement from the state that premiums for individual coverage were rising by an average of 10% in 2023 despite the arrival of the much-anticipated Colorado Option, which was meant to drive down costs. What’s more, people in most counties had access to traditional plans that were cheaper than the new option.

Supporters warned against calling the Colorado Option a bust just yet. With open enrollment underway, consumers on the ACA marketplace can choose Colorado Option plans for the first time since the 2021 law that created them took effect. State officials are betting that people will look beyond the cost of the premiums.

“People vote with their premium dollars,” said Kyle Brown, deputy commissioner for affordability programs at the Colorado Division of Insurance. “When people have a chance to really understand the value of the benefits that are available with the Colorado Option, I think people will find it’s the right option for them.”

Colorado is only the second state to launch this type of hybrid insurance system — one in which private insurers must adhere to strict plan, price, and transparency requirements with vigorous state oversight — and this inaugural enrollment period will likely serve as a test case that steers similar efforts in other states.

The Colorado Option isn’t a true public option, the kind designed and run by the state to compete with private heal …

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