Health Insurance Costs for Colorado Mountain Residents

There was a disturbing article in the Denver Post about the cost of health insurance in the Colorado high country. Health insurance premiums in one western Colorado region jumped 25.8 percent this year for people buying their own policies. That percentage increase sounds huge, but it seems small when quoting actual costs. One woman’s premium increased by more than $300 to $1828 per month, or nearly $22,000 per year. And it gets worse. The policy contains a $4,000 deductible for each her and her husband. Health care costs are significantly higher in the mountain communities compared to the metro areas and there are fewer insurers, which results in little if any competition.

Many people are obviously going to have to consider going uninsured, even though there are IRS penalties for being uninsured imposed by the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare.” The Act required the creation of geographical ratings within each state, and the mountain areas are locked into a high rating. Federal approval is required to revise them. One person is paying $1,590 a month for health insurance while an identical plan in Denver would cost $851. People are being forced to consider moving to Utah or Denver. Some are actually wishing they were older so they can be on Medicare. One woman commented, “It’s the first time I’ve heard 60-year-olds saying they wished they were 65.”

I didn’t find a proposed solution to the problem for people who don’t want to move or somehow find a way to quickly become 65. The term “Affordable” is misplaced for some of our citizens.

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