Finding Solutions to Rising Health Care Costs Out West

(April 1) – A bipartisan bill by Rep. Millie Hamner, D-Dillon, to study how a single insurance rating area in Colorado could help lower the exorbitant health insurance costs for the Western Slope passed the House on a 54-11 vote this morning.
“Health care premiums are rising so quickly in mountain communities that it’s become a crisis,” said Rep. Hamner, who shares prime sponsorship of the bill with Rep. Bob Rankin, R-Carbondale. “This bill will investigate how a single insurance rating zone could help lower health care costs for my constituents on the Western Slope.”
“We’ve been working on how to solve the high cost of health insurance in the mountains for years,” said Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, D-Steamboat Springs, a cosponsor of the bill. “I am excited that this idea is at last moving forward and optimistic that we will be able to bring some relief to the families that have been paying outrageously high premiums.”
In 2016, premiums in the mountain area increased an average of 25.8 percent, while the average increase across the state was 9.8 percent. Currently, Colorado has nine geographic rating areas, and combining these into one statewide area could even out these discrepancies.
HB16-1336 requires the Department of Regulatory Agencies to conduct a study to determine the impacts of establishing a single geographic area for premium rates for health insurance plans in Colorado. The study has a quick turnaround with the deadline of Aug. 1 to make recommendations to the Joint Budget Committee.
The 54-11 vote sends the bill to the Senate.

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