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Colorado Experiences 9.4 Percent Increase in Health Insurance Rates


Health insurance premiums in Colorado are expected to increase an average of 9.4% next year, according to a recent national survey. While this is bad news for cash-strapped residents, it is actually less than the increase in rates that have occurred over the past few years.

Bill Lindsay of Lockton Benefit Group says that private-sector health care spending in the state of Colorado is around $600 million per year. In 2011, health insurance premium rates increased by 14.4% over 2010. The 2011 increase is the lowest since 2000.

One positive in health care in the state is that residents are often considered among the healthiest in the nation. Although the number of obese residents are increasing, as they are everywhere in the United States, Colorado still has the lowest rate of obesity in the country at 19.8% of residents in 2011.

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The rise in obesity causes increases in chronic diseases that require managed health care, including diabetes, which in Colorado has increased from 3.6% of residents to 5.9%, and hypertension (21.2% of state residents).

Mr. Lindsay also notes that employer hospital costs are dropping due to the poor economy as many are putting off elective surgeries.

Patty Goodwin of Mountain States Employers Council praises the health care progress due to the Affordable Care Act. She says the health care reform law is pulling down the cost curve in health insurance by forcing state rate reviews when insurers seek hikes of more than 10 percent.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) also authorizes new resources and strategic planning initiatives aimed at reducing obesity and increasing opportunities for physical activity and improved nutrition, including the Prevention Fund, the National Prevention Strategy, Community Transformation Grants, greater coverage for preventive services, a Childhood Obesity Demonstration Project, and strategic new approaches through the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation.

Sources: The Denver Post, Healthy Americans.org