Premiums to rise for cheapest health plans in Colo.


The lowest price for a 30-year-old, non-smoker in Colorado is currently about $56 per month, according to data complied by the Government Accountability Office.

Colorado Interim Insurance Commissioner Doug Dean cautioned against comparisons to existing policies, noting that the plans available next year are structured differently from existing options.

"While it is tempting to compare the costs for the new plans to current ones, it is important to remember that these are new plans with new benefits and new requirements, so it is not an ‘apples to apples’ comparison," Dean said in a statement.

Despite differences in main factors, such as coverage levels and out-of-pocket costs, many healthcare analysts pay particular attention to the premiums for bargain-basement policies because getting young, healthy consumers into the system is the key to the law's success. 

The White House is hoping that young people will make up about 38 percent of all enrollees next year. Bringing young people into the system will help mitigate premium increases caused by guaranteeing coverage to people with pre-existing conditions.

The larger picture for Colorado's premiums isn't as staggering — the average premium for a middle-of-the-road policy doesn't appear to be changing much.

The median premium in the state is now about $200 per month for a 30-year-old, non-smoker. Comparable policies will be available through the exchange for about the same amount — and that's the price before applying new tax subsidies that will help cover the cost of premiums.

A 27-year-old would pay about $190 for the cheapest middle-of-the-road policy next year, not including any tax subsidies, and a 40-year-old would pay $232, according to rate information the state released Friday.

All in all, Colorado approved 150 plans for sale in its exchange for individuals who buy insurance on their own, rather than getting it through an employer. 

Another 200 plans will be available outside of the state's exchange. Premiums for those policies are about the same as plans inside the exchange.

Colorado is among the 16 states that elected to set up their own exchanges, rather than punting to the federal government. Its exchange does not actively negotiate with insurance companies for lower rates, unlike some other states that have embraced ObamaCare.

— This post was updated at 6:15 p.m. An earlier version incorrectly attributed data on current premiums to the Congressional Budget Office instead of the Government Accountability Office.