Health Insurance

The majority of Americans have health insurance that includes coverage for prescription drugs. But unfortunately that doesn't ensure that they can afford the specific drugs their doctors prescribe for them.

In fact, many Americans report that their insurance plans sometimes don't cover a drug they need — and nearly half the people whom this happens to say they simply don't fill the prescription. That's according to a poll released this month on income inequality from NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

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A vast majority of Coloradans, 93.5%, have health insurance, but more are struggling to pay their medical bills, according to a new report from the Colorado Health Institute (CHI) based on a survey of 10,000 households.

 

Data from the 2019 Colorado Health Access Survey (CHAS) shows that Weld, Jefferson and Douglas counties have the lowest rates of people without health insurance, ranging from 2.6% to 4.1%. Mountain counties like Eagle and Grand have the highest, ranging from 11.3% to 14.3%.

 

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Gov. Jared Polis announced Wednesday that the federal government has approved a reinsurance plan designed to lower premiums for individuals buying insurance on the Colorado health care exchange.

Scott Franz / Capitol Coverage

Colorado health insurance premiums on the individual market set up under the Affordable Care Act could drop markedly next year once the federal government approves a state reinsurance plan, Gov. Jared Polis said Tuesday.

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Colorado's House has sent to the governor a bill to develop a state-run health insurance option.

The bill directs state agencies to recommend a plan to compete with private insurance plans and those offered on Colorado's health care exchange.

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Democrat Kerry Donovan says she thought agricultural and water issues would be her top priority when she was elected a Colorado state senator representing a central Rocky Mountain district in 2015.

But Donovan says that district has become the nation's most expensive individual health care market — and health care is her constituents' top concern. On Thursday, she was set to bring a bill designed to have an almost immediate impact on reducing those premiums to the Senate Health & Human Services Committee.

The Medicaid expansion promoted by the Affordable Care Act was a boon for St. Mary's Medical Center, the largest hospital in western Colorado. Since 2014, the number of uninsured patients it serves has dropped by more than half, saving the nonprofit hospital in Grand Junction more than $3 million a year.

But the prices the hospital charges most insured patients have not gone down.

The Trump administration is weighing whether to require hospitals to publicly reveal the prices they charge insurance companies for medical procedures and services — prices that are currently negotiated in private and kept confidential.

The Department of Health and Human Services says its aim is to boost competition and cut costs by letting consumers see how prices vary from place to place. But health economists say such "transparency" might not actually bring down costs for patients.

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Some warned about mission creep. But Colorado's Democrat-controlled House has tentatively endorsed developing a proposal for a public health insurance option.

Gov. Jared Polis insists such an option will introduce competition and make insurance affordable for thousands of Colorado families.

Scott Franz / Capitol Coverage

Out of the dozens of lawmakers who hold leadership positions at the State Capitol, only five live on the Western Slope. State Rep. Dylan Roberts is one of them. The Democrat from Avon will lead the state's new Rural Affairs Committee. He says the rising cost of health insurance will be at the top of his agenda when the session starts next month.

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