Coloradans who don’t get their health insurance through their employer and have to buy it on the individual market are saving hundreds of dollars a month in 2022 thanks to the American Rescue Plan, the federal stimulus package passed earlier this year by Democrats.
The fact that the stimulus reduced health insurance costs is not widely known, according to experts.
And Colorado Sen. John Hickenlooper wants to push those savings on Affordable Care Act (ACA) plans beyond 2022.
“The American Rescue Plan’s premium tax credits are making affordable, quality health care more accessible,” Hickenlooper told the Colorado Times Recorder through a spokesperson this week. “Extending them is an absolute priority.”
Hickenlooper supports the ACA expansion included in the nearly $2 trillion Build Back Better budget plan, which has passed the U.S. House, and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer hopes to get through the upper chamber before Christmas.
Hickenlooper is pushing to extend the ACA premium assistance that was included in the American Rescue Plan, signing a letter with 18 other senators back in May.
Some rural counties in Colorado were down to just one ACA-compliant carrier on the individual market in 2021, which accounts for about 8% of the health insurance market in the state. Those numbers have grown with pandemic job instability.
There’s much more competition this year, with just one Colorado county down to a single ACA plan carrier. Eagle County, for instance, jumped from one to three carriers in 2022. Insurance experts say the lack of competition in the past has led to some of the highest premiums in the nation in Colorado’s rural areas.
With Colorado’s reinsurance program helping to stabilize prices, and the ACA expansion in the American Rescue Plan, health insurance brokers say they’re finally seeing premium reductions and lower-deductible plans for the first time in years.
“I actually felt like I was able to help people with insurance costs, which hasn’t been the case in a very long time,” said Bethe Wright of the Wright Insurance Company in Eagle.
“Individuals and families that didn’t qualify for help in the past are now seeing savings from as $100 to over $1,500 per month on their premiums for 2022. I am hoping more people will take advantage of these savings,” she added.
Brokers don’t charge their clients but instead get paid by the insurance carriers, and in order to take advantage of the ACA cost savings (based on income), consumers must sign up for their plan through the state exchange, Connect for Health Colorado.
Wright is authorized the help sign people up through the state exchange, but she said a lot of people don’t know about the massive savings for 2022 via the American Rescue Plan.
“It’s definitely sparked interest in those that have been uninsured, but there is not enough information circulating, so many do not know this help is available,” Wright said. “Many have been able to upgrade their plans because of these savings and will be able to pay less out of pocket when they use their insurance.”
Today (Dec. 8) has been declared Get Covered Colorado Day by Connect for Health Colorado – a day of action to encourage as many Coloradans as possible to get enrolled during the annual open enrollment period that ends Jan. 15 (people needing Jan. 1 coverage must sign up by Dec. 15).
Connect for Health Colorado Chief Executive Officer Kevin Patterson said in a press release that numbers are up: “I’m thrilled that more than 158,000 Coloradans have signed up for 2022 coverage at this point in the enrollment period.”
Colorado Lt. Gov. and Director of the Office of Saving People Money on HealthCare Dianne Primavera said access to high-quality, affordable health care has been a primary focus of the Polis administration since day one.
“Get Covered Colorado Day is the perfect opportunity for uninsured Coloradans to sign up, or to remind friends and family that they can save money on their health care by shopping for plans on Connect for Health Colorado,” said Primavera.