Health insurance region study clears Colorado House, Senate | SteamboatToday.com

Health insurance region study clears Colorado House, Senate

Colorado currently has nine health insurance regions.

— A bill that would require a study of the feasibility of placing all of Colorado into a single region for purposes of determining health insurance costs has passed both the Colorado Senate and House and will now head to Gov. John Hickenlooper’s desk.

House Bill 16-1336 would require the Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies to conduct a study to determine the impacts of establishing a single geographic area for health insurance premium rates.

Currently, Colorado is divided into nine regions, each with its own rates based, in part, on the cost and availability of providers in the region.

The Mountain Region, which includes Routt, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Summit and Grand counties, along with 16 other western Colorado counties, is easily the most expensive region in which to purchase insurance plans.

The region may also have the most expensive health insurance premiums in the country, according to proponents of the bill.

An online petition created by Avon resident Chris Neuswanger in support of the bill has gathered more than 1,600 signatures, including a few dozen new signatures in the past week from residents of Steamboat Springs, Craig and the surrounding areas.

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Many local residents who signed the petition shared personal testimony along with their support:

"My insurance premium doubled this year. I can barely afford to pay my bills and my health insurance premiums. I have been making the same wage for the last 15 years, and my paycheck doesn't meet inflation, much less inflated premiums," wrote Karen Jill Andrews, of Yampa.

"It's about time to get this issue addressed," wrote Carol Peregoy, of Clark.

"Over the last couple years, I watched my premium rise from $170/month to $300 and now $350 … This is out of control. Something needs to be done soon," wrote Ryan Gelling, of Steamboat Springs.

Proponents of the bill say using a single region for all of Colorado to determine healthcare costs would mean a bigger risk pool and, therefore, more even costs.

If HB 16-1336 is signed by the governor, the feasibility study would need to be completed by August.

View the online petition to support the bill at equalrates.com, and view the text of the bill at leg.state.co.us.

To reach Teresa Ristow, call 970-871-4206, email tristow@SteamboatToday.com or follow her on Twitter @TeresaRistow