Health insurance costs slow in coming

By: AP Email
By: AP Email

DENVER (AP) -- Colorado residents who need health insurance by the end of the year are going to have to wait a little longer to see how much the new requirement will cost them.

State insurance officials said Wednesday they'll need an extra two weeks to release rates showing how much health plans will cost under the new federal health law. Colorado originally hoped to release the rates Aug. 1.

A spokesman for the state Division of Insurance, Vincent Plymell, said Colorado needs more time to vet the 17 insurers that submitted about 750 plans in May.

"It's worthwhile to take the time and effort to do this right," Plymell said.

The rates suggested by insurance providers vary widely based on how much they cover. For a 27-year-old nonsmoker, the suggested premium range from $139.13 a month to $837.37 a month. Not all of the insurers plan to offer coverage in all parts of Colorado, and rates can vary based on where people live.

Colorado actuaries are combing through the submitted plans to make sure they comply with new federal requirements, such as not rejecting patients for pre-existing medical conditions, or not charging different rates based on gender. Then the state insurance actuaries decide whether the suggested insurance plans would be feasible at the rates suggested by the company.

The estimated 14 percent of Coloradans without health insurance won't be able to start shopping for health coverage until Oct. 1, when the state marketplace called the exchange opens. The law requires all to have coverage by January or face fines.

Plymell said the state would finish work on the insurance rates next week and get the data to Colorado's exchange, called Connect For Health Colorado. The numbers should be released to the public about a week after that, he said.

A spokeswoman for Connect For Health Colorado said in a statement that the delay would not affect the exchange.

The 750 submitted plans include individual and small-group coverage. Colorado has an estimated 716,300 people without health insurance.

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