Residents who purchase health insurance through the state health exchange could get a good deal this year, despite increases in premiums.
Premiums through Connect for Health Colorado will increase on average about 5.6 percent, according to the Colorado Division of Insurance.
However, almost 16,000 residents who qualify for tax credits on the Western Slope outside of Grand Junction are expected to see the cost of their insurance premiums decrease an average of about 37 percent if they renew their plans, according to the division.
An increase in tax credits is driving the savings that some customers could see.
The credits will allow some residents to qualify for plans that will have a monthly premium of zero, said Joe Hanel, a spokesman for the Colorado Health Institute.
“It sure could save consumers here in Colorado a whole lot,” he said.
About two-thirds of those who purchase insurance through the state health exchange, or about 70,000 people, qualify for tax credits to offset premiums, he said.
In La Plata County, about 2,900 residents bought insurance through the health care exchange from either Anthem or Friday Health Plans in 2018, according to a state report. In Montezuma County, about 740 residents purchased policies from Connect for Health Colorado.
Tax credits available to residents for health insurance are going up because they are tied to the price of Silver Plans, according the division.
The average price of Silver Plans is going up about 11.86 percent because President Donald Trump ended federal payments, known as cost-sharing reductions to insurance companies in 2018. The payments were designed to reduce how much low-income customers pay in co-payments and deductibles.
However, when federal payments ended, insurance companies were still required to charge those who qualify the lower co-payments and coinsurance.
It is possible lower premiums could bolster enrollment in Connect for Health Colorado, said Vincent Plymell, spokesman for the Division of Insurance. But it’s not a guarantee.
“The changes and confusion coming out of the federal government could also keep people away,” he said.
Next year is the first year residents will not pay a penalty on their income taxes for not having health insurance, and it is unclear how that might effect enrollment and the stability of the health care market, Hanel said.
Enrollment in Connect for Health Colorado opens Nov. 1, and residents must purchase insurance by Dec. 15 to have coverage Jan. 1.