In Colorado, it’s our history books that reflect a bright and healthy future. That’s because as a state we’ve worked hard to solve our own problems. Before federal health care reform was passed, two initiatives highlighted Colorado’s commitment to thinking innovatively about health care.
In 2008, the Blue Ribbon Commission on Health Care Reform presented recommendations to Colorado’s General Assembly on how to expand health coverage and decrease health care costs for Colorado residents.
From Recommendations to Law
A year after the recommendations were presented, our elected officials passed the Colorado Health Care Affordability Act, which among other changes, expanded Medicaid for both children and adults.
Since then, Colorado has shown a continued commitment to expanding coverage and decreasing costs.
One: $20 Million Saved; More Savings to Come
In the last year, efforts to improve primary care have saved Colorado an estimated $20 million. These savings are due to a new health care program directed by the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing that makes sure Medicaid patients with complex conditions receive regular doctor visits and care coordination.
This is especially important at a time when, with the economy still struggling, Colorado’s Medicaid population has risen to 620,000 people, and is projected to grow to more than 700,000 in 2013. Cost savings is more critical than ever.
Two: Affordable Care Act Continues to Save Consumers Money
Looking nationally, health care reform has saved consumers $2.1 billion in 2012. The savings come from two provisions of the Affordable Care Act. The first provision requires insurance companies to be held accountable for how and why they raise insurance rates. The insurance rate reviews are conducted at a state-level. According to Kaiser Family Foundation, 45 individual and small-group insurance companies in Colorado submitted their rates for review. When submitted, the average insurance rate increase was over 7%. After the rates were reviewed, modified, or rejected, the average rate increase was just 5%.
The second provision that has contributed to the extra $2.1 billion in American’s pockets is the requirement that insurance companies must spend at least 80% of their premium dollars on medical care. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, 13 million Americans have received rebates totaling $1.1 billion from their insurance companies because of this provision. In Colorado, over 208,000 residents received close to $28 million in rebates.
A Look Towards the Future
Even with these successes, there’s more left to do. Nationally, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that by 2020, changes through the Affordable Care Act will provide coverage for an additional 30 million Americans while another 30 million Americans will remain uninsured. Narrowing this gap will require individuals and families to have more and better information about their coverage options.
You should be able to get the care you need when you need it. We also believe that decisions about your health are too important to be left up to others. That’s why whether you want information about Colorado’s Health Benefit Exchange or how the Affordable Care Act affects small businesses, we’ll be here to provide you the basic information and resources you need to get healthy and stay healthy. Together, we can create an affordable and accessible health care system right here at home.