Vibrant Health filed preliminary medical health insurance rates for its individual plans for 2023 — the proposed rates are 49% more costly than what community members pay now

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The Keystone Policy Center Constructing is shown on Thursday, July 21, 2022. The constructing houses the Peak Health Alliance, which is a nonprofit medical health insurance purchasing alliance that got its start in 2018.
Jenna deJong/Summit Each day News

Not many understand the medical health insurance industry. When insurance firms file their rates with the Colorado Division of Insurance annually, the information and knowledge just isn’t easily digestible for the common consumer. Only those with knowledge of the industry have the flexibility to discern this information and comprehend whether or not the premiums are accurate and fair. 

That’s one among the the explanation why Peak Health Alliance got its start in Summit County in 2018. The organization is a nonprofit medical health insurance purchasing alliance that hires an actuarial firm annually to assist them wade through these proposed filings from insurance firms. With the assistance of this firm, and using their very own team’s knowledge of the industry, the small staff of 5 is generally in a position to lower rates for the eight counties it currently serves. 

Right away, Peak Health is attempting to do exactly that because it examines the speed filings that Vibrant Health, its chosen insurance carrier for the past few years, has filed with the division of insurance. 

Those preliminary rates, filed on July 12, have caught the eye of some community leaders. Some are sounding the alarm on what it could mean for community members’ pocketbooks. 

“I believe they’re tragic for the people of Summit County,” said Tamara Pogue, Summit County commissioner and former CEO of Peak Health. “Summit County residents are under such incredible financial pressure from inflation, from the increased costs of housing. So as to add yet another thing is devastating to me.” 

In keeping with rate filing documents Vibrant Health submitted to the division of insurance, the corporate is asking for a 7.8% base rate change, meaning all individual plans will increase by that percentage. But on top of that, the corporate is submitting a 34% increase for its rating area factor for Summit County and surrounding communities, in keeping with the filing documents. 

Colorado Insurance Commissioner Michael Conway explained that this “rating area factor” is a number calculated by Vibrant Health that takes into consideration how expensive it’s to insure a specific population. To start out, the bottom rate is a rise for everybody, but then insurance firms can further increase the fee of premiums depending on whether or not individuals smoke, what their age is, where they live and family size.

Along with the rating area factor, corporations may even tack on a “profit factor” which an organization uses to quantify how wealthy they consider their plans to be, said Vincent Plymell, spokesperson for the division of insurance. Plymell said Vibrant Health is proposing a 2.9% increase for Peak plans. 

Which means that for counties including Summit, Dolores, Grand, Lake, La Plata, Montezuma and San Juan, the proposed increase to individual premiums is sort of 49% higher than today’s premiums, in keeping with Plymell’s calculations using data from Vibrant Health’s filings. 

Peak Health CEO Anne Ladd said her organization is well aware of this proposed change and that with the assistance of their third-party firm, in addition to the division of insurance, they’re investigating why Vibrant Health has submitted such a steep incline. She said that she felt that Peak Health had worked to “be good neighbors” and said that the rating area factor mustn’t be so high. 

“The query is, what’s the precise number, and I can’t answer that until we now have more information,” Ladd said. “What do we predict is the precise number? What’s a good number? Again, we’re not attempting to put Vibrant out of business. That’s the very last thing we wish. We wish our partner in business. We wish the providers locally in business. We also want local residents to have access to inexpensive health care.” 

In keeping with the speed filing documents Vibrant Health submitted, the common rate increase for 2023 across the entire areas it insures is 21%. Last yr, on average, the plans didn’t increase but dropped 0.6%. The last time Vibrant Health proposed a rise for its plans was in 2018 for 2019, when the speed increase was, on average, 7%. When it filed its rate increases in 2017 for 2018, it was a 31% jump, on average. 

Conway said the division of insurance is investigating and analyzing the data Vibrant Health filed this yr, identical to it’s doing with all of the insurance firms. By law, insurance firms must file their rates with the division of insurance before they will market their products to most people. 

Conway said the division of insurance has 60 days to judge the data and make sure that the businesses are usually not overinflating their prices. The division works with the businesses to come back to an agreement and eventually, the division approves the rates before open enrollment begins in November. 

Conway noted that the division normally involves an agreement with the businesses. The last time the division disapproved a rate was in 2010. 

Right away, the division is currently collecting public feedback about these rate filings until Aug. 1. During that point, Conway said anyone is in a position to submit comments. This might be individuals who want to offer input on how these proposed changes could impact them in addition to providers who’ve information on what it’s like working with a specific company. Though this doesn’t mean the division of insurance will disapprove a rate, Conway said these stories are helpful because the entity continues to interact with insurance firms. 

Ladd said Peak can be within the technique of analyzing Vibrant’s information and why they proposed the speed filings they did. Peak Health has until Aug. 1 to submit comments, and Ladd said that is the organization’s highest priority. 

She also encouraged community members to submit their very own comments too. 

“Engage in the general public comment process, and understand that that is the request and (that) where we find yourself is prone to be lower,” Ladd said. “The query is how much lower.”  

To file a comment, visit the division of insurance’s website at DOI.Colorado.gov. 

Final plans and premiums for 2023 will probably be released in mid-October, and open enrollment begins Nov. 1.

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