Insurance costs outstrip mortgage for many in Colorado

Insurance agents are struggling to find clients affordable health insurance plans in the Centennial state’s high country, where costs are among the highest in the nation

Insurance News

By Lyle Adriano

Residents of Colorado’s mountain counties struggle with steep health insurance costs—so steep, that the area has some of the highest prices in the country. Conditions continue to deteriorate for the locals, as a carrier known for its reasonably-priced coverage options closes down.

A national survey conducted two years ago discovered that the region that encompasses the counties of Garfield, Eagle, Pitkin, and Summit (the so-called resort counties) was the most expensive place in America to purchase health care in.

The insurance industry claims the difficulties of providing health care services to those in the mountains as reasons for the high premiums.

In response to the report, Colorado’s Division of Insurance enlarged the region in order to water down health care costs. While the ploy was successful in reducing 2015’s individual plan premiums by 7.44%, 2016 saw huge increases in policy costs.

Before it was dissolved by the state, Colorado HealthOP—a health cooperative known for its inexpensive options—raised its insurance prices by approximately half.  The state’s division of insurance shuttered Colorado HealthOP at the end of 2015 because its reserves were insufficient following a meagre federal funding.

With fewer insurers to choose health coverage from, locals are finding it more difficult to secure their own policies to avoid federal income tax penalties later in the year.

Summit County commissioner Dan Gibbs described the region’s insurance woes as a crisis, remarking that residents “. . . are deciding now whether they're going to pay rent or buy health insurance or pay for day care.”

Gibbs pointed out that some households have even ended up paying monthly premiums of more than $2,000—a price range normally associated with mortgage costs.

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