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Colorado Exchange Releases Health Insurance Rates

Colorado released its Obamacare insurance rates on Friday, joining 13 states and the District of Columbia in making rates public.

The state earlier made the call to be a clearinghouse exchange, rather than an active purchaser, and so, it has approved all 242 health plans submitted for sale on its marketplace, Connect for Health Colorado.  Thirteen carriers will offer 150 plans in the individual marketplace, and 92 for small businesses. The plans go on sale Oct. 1 for coverage that starts Jan. 1. Colorado also approved 299 plans for sale outside its exchange and prices for them.

“We’re very pleased with the number of carriers and plans,” Deputy Insurance Commissioner Peg Brown told the Connect for Health board Monday. “It represents a wide variety of choice … and healthy competition in the Colorado insurance marketplace overall,” Brown said.

Members of the exchange board greeted Brown’s announcement with applause but did not comment further.

The rates came out  more than two weeks later than the state’s Division of Insurance had initially promised.

So where do the Colorado rates fall in the ongoing debate about whether prices on the exchanges are reasonable? It might be the rare “just right” state.

Prices range from $135 a month on the low end to almost $1,000 a month for the most comprehensive coverage with some variation depending on a person’s age, where they live and whether they use tobacco.

The average price of an individual policy in Colorado now is about $200 a month, and there are a variety of plans near that average in the rates released Friday.

See all insurance marketplace rates that have been released to date

But Brown cautioned against comparing plans approved for next year to those currently available.

“It’s important to note that these are new plans, and developed for new requirements in 2014. Consequently, any comparison to past or current plans would not be an apples-to-apples comparison,” Brown said.

Prices will also be lower than listed for many people earning less than $46,000 a year, because they will qualify for subsidies to make insurance more affordable. The subsidies will be on a sliding scale, so people with  lower incomes will get larger subsidies.

The Division of Insurance released sample rate information for the new plans earlier this week. It shows that premiums for a 27-year-old non-smoker will range from $135.57 a month for the lowest-cost catastrophic coverage plan to $566.80 for “platinum” level coverage in the individual market. Prices range from $183.72 to $662.32 a month in the small group market, which will not offer catastrophic nor platinum plans. A 40-year-old can expect to pay from $176.89 a month for a bronze plan on the individual market to $967.85 for a platinum policy in the small group market.

The greatest number of plans in Colorado’s exchange will be offered by not-for-profit Rocky Mountain HMO, with 52 individual and 30 small group offerings, followed by Kaiser Permanente, with 27 individual and 24 small group plans. (Kaiser Health News is not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente.)

People in cities will have more plans to choose from than those in rural areas, but all Coloradans will have several plans to choose from

For-profit carriers including Cigna, Anthem and Humana have far fewer plans. Cigna and Humana are offering 11 and seven individual plans, respectively, and none in the small business market. Anthem is offering two small business plans only. Colorado’s new health insurance cooperative, Colorado HealthOP, established through the Affordable Care Act, will offer eight individual and six small business plans.

It is estimated that about 800,000 Coloradans are currently uninsured, about 15% of the state’s population.