35,000 enrolled in Colorado's public option in its first year

Around 35,000 people have signed up for Colorado's public option, representing around 13 percent of the total ACA exchange enrollment in the state. 

In a Jan. 17 news release, Colorado Insurance Commissioner Michael Conway said the enrollment "far surpassed" his hopes for the program's first year. 

"But perhaps I shouldn't be surprised," Mr. Conway said. "Not only do these plans create more competition in our insurance market, they offer a better value to Coloradans, with many services that lead to better health outcomes offered at no-cost or low costs." 

In November, Amanda Massey, executive director of the Colorado Association of Health Plans, told The Colorado Sun most of the lowest priced options in the state for 2023 will not be Colorado Option plans. 

The Colorado Option, signed into law in 2021, requires payers to sell plans offering a standard set of benefits at lower prices. 

The law created benchmarks for payers to reach each year. Payers were supposed to reduce ACA exchange plan costs by 5 percent for 2023, but only 1 out of 8 plans hit this target, The Denver Post reported in September.  

For 2024 plans, premiums must be 10 percent lower than 2021 premiums and 15 percent lower for 2025 plans. 

According to the news release, if payers do not comply with these targets, the state's legislature will hold public hearings to investigate prices. 

"When the issue of health care costs and insurance premiums come up, the insurance companies point at the hospitals and other healthcare providers, and those same providers turn around and point back at the insurance companies," Mr. Conway said. "Hearings will give the [insurance division] and the public the chance to stop that back and forth and dig into the matter."

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