Public Option Recommendation to Make Health Care More Affordable

Final report delivered to the Legislature by Division of Insurance and Department of Health Care Policy and Financing.

DENVER (Nov. 15, 2019) – Today, the Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI) and the Department of Health Care Policy & Financing (HCPF) delivered their final report for the development of a Public Option for affordable health insurance to the Colorado Legislature. This report is the result of House Bill 19-1004 (HB19-1004) passed in the last legislative session, which directed the two agencies to create a plan for such an option. On average, the actuarial analysis accompanying the report estimates that premiums will be reduced 10 percent; in many parts of the state, Coloradans are estimated to save more than 15 percent. 

“As a four-time cancer survivor who knows what it’s like to worry about how you are going to pay medical bills and keep a roof over your kids’ heads, I’m encouraged to see our agencies putting together a plan to really help people,” said Lieutenant Governor Dianne Primavera.

The Public Option recommendation is based on extensive stakeholder engagement over the past six months. HCPF, DOI, and the Lieutenant Governor hosted 20 public listening sessions in Alamosa, Aurora, Boulder, Burlington, Denver, Durango, Edwards, Glenwood Springs, Grand Junction, Greeley, Hugo, Keystone, and Pueblo. They received more than 260 written comments, conducted three focus groups, released a draft for comment, and publicly posted all materials. Our recommendation responds to the innovative ideas and thoughtful input raised during this process. 

“The stakeholder process was instrumental in crafting the draft solution. I am very proud of the collaboration and thoughtful contributions made by hospitals, doctors, employers and Coloradans across the state,” said HCPF Executive Director Kim Bimestefer. “This diversity of input has helped us address affordability while creating pathways to increase access to quality care in rural communities.”

The proposal outlines a public-private partnership designed to make health care more affordable by bringing down the costs of care, reducing insurance premiums, and giving more options to Colorado consumers while helping rural and critical access hospitals succeed - all with minimal impact to the State budget. 

“Everything about our recommendation is focused on making health care more accessible and affordable for Coloradans,” said Colorado Insurance Commissioner Michael Conway. “To do that we must build a system that tackles the costs of care and brings more logic into the process. The Public Option is designed to help everyone in the individual market and eventually small and mid-size businesses as well. We look forward to working with our partners in the legislature in making it a reality.” 

The Public Option will be available to all Colorado residents, including those eligible for federal tax credits through the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and those not eligible for such credits. It will be another plan available along with others in the individual market, providing more choice and competition for consumers. Plans will be offered by the health insurance companies already in Colorado. The plans will be sold through the existing system of Colorado’s exchange - Connect for Health Colorado.  

Adela Flores Brennan, Executive Director of the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative said, “The Public Option is an innovative opportunity for us to bring more affordable coverage within reach of Colorado consumers. We're excited to work with the State to get the Public Option up and running, and continue our progress toward getting all Coloradans covered."

The recommendation also includes the creation of an Advisory Board to advise on the important policy issues throughout the implementation of the Public Option, as well as to keep stakeholder voices and talent involved.  

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The Colorado Division of Insurance (DOI), part of the Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) regulates the insurance industry and assists consumers and other stakeholders with insurance issues.  Visit dora.colorado.gov/insurance for more information or call 303-894-7499 / toll free 800-930-3745

About the Colorado Department of Healthcare Policy & Financing: 

The Department administers Health First Colorado (Colorado's Medicaid Program), Child Health Plan Plus and other programs for Coloradans who qualify. For more information about the Department, please visit Colorado.gov/hcpf.

DORA is dedicated to preserving the integrity of the marketplace and is committed to promoting a fair and competitive business environment in Colorado. Consumer protection is our mission. Visit dora.colorado.gov for more information or call 303-894-7855 / toll free 1-800-886-7675


Media Contact:
Vincent Plymell
Division of Insurance
vincent.plymell@state.co.us 
p: 303-894-2261 | c: 303-910-9614