Letter: Colorado Health Insurance Option is win for consumers, community
Health care is a universal, human need. It is central to our physical, mental and social wellbeing. Yet in the United States of America, the wealthiest nation in the world, nearly 29 million people do not have health insurance. Millions more lack access to affordable health care even if they have coverage. Right now people are losing their lives, declaring bankruptcy and going without needed care because private health insurance is unaffordable.
In Colorado, these problems are all too real. Our state has some of the highest health insurance rates and average out-of-pocket costs in the country. One in six Colorado counties, including Routt County, have only one insurance carrier to “choose” from on the individual market. And the central mountains region has one of the highest uninsured rates in the state.
Even those who have health insurance are struggling to keep up with the costs. Between 2008 and 2017, premiums rose 50% for individuals and more than 60% for families with employer-sponsored coverage. Meanwhile, Colorado’s hospitals are raking in the highest profit margins than any other state in the country and making calculated decisions to maximize revenue. Rather than increase access, expand provider networks, or lower costs, the healthcare industry has continued to profit off the backs of consumers.
The Colorado Health Insurance Option (HB21-1232) represents the most significant reform to the health care system in more than a decade. With the recent changes made to the bill, the Colorado Option will require health care providers to reduce premiums paid by individuals and small businesses by 18%.
In addition, it will ensure that insurance companies offer a standardized plan in every county that covers high-cost services and lowers out-of-pocket costs, like copays and deductibles, so people can afford to get care when they need it. For people like me and the community of Steamboat Springs, this is a huge win.
The Colorado Option gives us a path to a brighter future and more affordable health care. It will reduce the cost of health insurance, increase access to care, protect the rights of consumers and provide greater accountability over the healthcare industry. We must do everything we can to make sure it becomes a reality. Our prosperity is at stake, and lives depend on it.
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