Health care is a human and universal need. It is fundamental to our physical, mental and social well-being. However, in the United States of America, the richest nation in the world, about 29 million people do not have health insurance. Millions more do not have access to affordable health care even if they have coverage. Right now people are losing their lives, declaring bankruptcy and going without the necessary care because private health insurance is not affordable.
In Colorado, these problems are too real. Our state has some of the highest health insurance rates and average out-of-pocket costs in the country. One in six Colorado counties, including Routt County, has only one insurance company to choose from in the market. And the central mountain region has one of the highest unsecured rates in the state.
Even those who have health insurance have trouble keeping up with costs. Between 2008 and 2017, premiums increased by 50% for individuals and more than 60% for families with employer-sponsored coverage. Meanwhile, Colorado hospitals earn higher profit margins than any other state in the country and make calculated decisions to maximize revenue. Instead of increasing access, expanding provider networks, or reducing costs, the healthcare industry has continued to reap benefits from the backs of consumers.
Colorado’s health insurance option (HB21-1232) represents the most important health care system reform in more than a decade. With recent changes to the bill, the Colorado Option will require health care providers to reduce premiums paid by individuals and small businesses by 18%.
In addition, it will ensure that insurance companies offer a standardized plan in all counties that covers high-cost services and reduces out-of-pocket costs, such as copayments and deductibles, so people can afford to care when they need it. For people like me and the Steamboat Springs community, this is a big win.
The Colorado Option provides us with a path to a brighter future and more affordable health care. It will reduce the cost of health insurance, increase access to care, protect consumer rights, and provide greater accountability for the healthcare industry. We must do everything we can to make sure it becomes a reality. Our prosperity is at stake and life depends on it.