Update: Eagle County’s Healthcare Insurance Costs

by     BoCC member  Jill Ryan and the ECT  – working to promote lower Healthcare costs in Eagle County today.

Colorado’s Governor is signing (Tuesday, 17MAY2016) a Bill (HR1336).  This Bill directs and funds a Study – by the Colorado Commissioner of Insurance – to determine the feasibility of Colorado going to a “Single-Statewide Health Insurance Area“.  Today, the Front Range pays less for their Health Insurance (across the board) because they are in different Insurance Area than Eagle County – with a lot more Healthcare competition.

Should Colorado ever become a Single Health Insurance Area – the Front Range folks would ultimately pay more and the Mountain Areas – a bit Less…

KEEP IN MIND:  This concept is EXACTLY how Colorado’s Public Schools are funded.  The State harvests all the Property Taxes for Public School Education – then re-allocates the money with their stated (Robin Hood) goal of a consistent, Public School Education no matter where your child gets educated in Colorado.  OBVIOUSLY – Eagle County and Pitkin County (Aspen) pay  MORE into the Public School system – than what is returned by the State each year!  All our collective Resort Real Estate (Property Taxes) is why we pay in more than we get back…

IMPORTANT POINT:  This Bill (HR1336) does nothing to discourage the “over-charging” that our Vail Valley Medical Center (the Vail Hospital) has been doing for decades – that has resulted in Eagle County paying the Highest Health Insurance Costs in our Nation.  Ditto for Pitkin County.

from EC Commissioner – Jill Ryan – Potential Remedy for High Cost of Mountain Health Plans Heads to Governor’s Desk this week

Jill-RyanOn Tuesday, (17MAY2016) Governor Hickenlooper (D) will sign House Bill 1336 into law.  This is a step toward relieving the high cost of health insurance among Western Slope residents.

The bill directs the Colorado Commissioner of Insurance to study the impacts and viability of a statewide insurance rating area for individual health plans. Geographic rating areas are a product of the Affordable Care Act, whereby insurance companies use data from local medical claims to set insurance rates. Originally, Colorado had eleven rating areas with the resort counties of Eagle, Pitkin, Garfield and Summit lumped into one. In 2014, the region had the highest health care premiums in the nation, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

After local elected officials lobbied the Colorado Division of Insurance, all Western Slope counties (except Mesa) were combined into Rating Area 9, but ultimately this was not a fix. With the 2015 closing of Colorado Health Op, which was the most affordable health insurance plan on the market, residents have been faced with monthly premiums as high as their mortgage payments, in addition to high deductibles. Some have chosen to go without health insurance and pay the federal penalty.

Insurance rates are based on health care costs. It is unclear exactly why health care is so much more expensive in mountain communities. The study, which must be completed by August 1, 2016, will look for cost drivers by comparing prescription drugs, medical provider rates, diagnostics tests, surgical procedures, and other hospital procedures around the state. The study will also consider whether a single rating area for individual plans would spread out the geographical cost differences significantly enough to bring down premiums for mountain residents. If the study proves feasible, 2017 legislation could create the single rating area, if the Commissioner of Insurance does not act first.

Chris-Neuswanger-15MAY2016 Chris Neuswanger a (private sector) Mortgage Broker in Avon, was one of the many Western Slope residents that testified (at the Statehouse in Denver) about the bill.  Neuswanger created an online petition (Click Here) shortly after the bill was introduced, urging its passage. Within a couple of weeks, 1,700 signatures emerged.  The reams of signatures were waved in front of the Health, Insurance and Environment Committee, which passed the bill 12 to 1.  The bi-partisan bill was initiated by a coalition of County Commissioners and sponsored by Colorado State Senator Kerry Donovan (D), State Representative Diane Mitsch-Bush (D)  and several other mountain lawmakers.  Appropriately, the bill will be signed in the mountain town of Frisco.

ECT Note:  EC Commissioner Jill Ryan and Representative Diane Mitsch-Bush must run for re-election this November 2016 to keep their Seats.



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