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Affordable Care Act

The news about rising premiums might be making some people a little sick to their stomach.  

So what’s causing premiums to go up? And what steps can someone take to negotiate the health insurance landscape?

A group of Colorado lawmakers are working to lower health insurance premiums for residents on the individual market created in the wake of the Affordable Care Act. Rates are predicted to rise 34 percent on average next year. There are concerns that healthy people will opt out of coverage and that could cause rates to rise even higher as the insurance risk pool thins out.

Bob Collins, a small business owner and the father of three in Thornton, said the rise will cost him $18,000 to cover his family next year. That’s a significant increase to what he pays now.

Screenshot from live video of signing

 The Roaring Fork Valley’s health insurance costs are already the highest in the state. Those numbers could rise again due to a presidential order signed yesterday.

twitter.com/SenCoryGardner

This week, senate Republicans once again tried to end the Affordable Care Act. The replacement plan, named after authors Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy, needed 51 votes in order to pass. By Tuesday, it was clear there wasn’t enough support and so the vote did not happen.

Bente Birkeland

The head of the Democratic National Committee joined Colorado leaders – including Gov.John Hickenlooper – in calling for universal health care and putting forward a united front on health care reform. It’s part of a national bus tour called Drive for Our Lives. The bus is stopping in states where members of Congress, for instance, Sen. Cory Gardner, voted to repeal Obamacare. 

The Republican Obamacare-replacement, the American Health Care Act, is now in the Senate after passing the House in May. Recent reports suggest Senate Republicans are hard at work on a version of the bill they hope to put to a vote before the July recess.

House Republicans narrowly passed a new health care bill last Thursday. It’ll now go to the Senate.

In the midst of an ongoing national fight about the future of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, a measure to replace Colorado’s health care exchange is igniting passion in Denver. On Feb. 7, people rallied outside the State Capitol to protest repealing the Affordable Care Act, while inside the capitol, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on Senate Bill 3, the Repeal Colorado Health Benefit Exchange Bill.

Data continues to show that where a person lives in Colorado plays a big role in dictating how much they pay for health insurance. That's because insurers use it to calculate premiums and in some regions it's unusually high. State lawmakers are aware of the problem – but are not sure what the solution is.

"I was seeing upwards of $500 a month," said Sam Higby, a Breckenridge outdoor gear shop employee. He's 35 and healthy, but said on his salary he simply can't afford healthcare.

"It does weigh on me as an active person, being concerned about what might happen out there."

Elise Thatcher

Hundreds of area residents attended a health insurance forum in Basalt on Thursday night. The last-minute event was coordinated by the Basalt Chamber of Commerce, after thousands of locals found out this fall that their coverage will end in January. State Senator Kerry Donovan, the state’s health exchange, and the Colorado Division of Insurance participated.

 

Courtesy

  It’s getting into tax season, and this is the first time residents will have to pay a fine if they didn’t have health insurance in 2014. That’ll be true for 2015 taxes as well, if someone can’t prove they have health insurance this year. For those signing up for health coverage through the statewide online exchange, counties in the Roaring Fork Valley worked together to get as many people signed on as possible. 

Creative Commons/Flickr/Wonderlane

If you’re an adult with Medicaid in the Roaring Fork Valley, there’s just a handful of dental offices that will accept your health insurance. This lack of access is a problem as the number of Medicaid patients increase under the Affordable Care Act. Colorado expanded Medicaid a year ago and in Pitkin County alone, the number of people using Medicaid nearly tripled. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen has more.

Garfield County Projects More Oil & Gas Revenues

Oct 1, 2014
Elise Thatcher

Garfield County is looking at how much money it can spend-- and save-- next year. Officials introduced the proposed 2015 budget… and it's a lot like the playbook officials had this year, in 2014. But there are some key changes. 

Colorado Medical Society

Health insurance in the Roaring Fork Valley will be cheaper next year for some residents. The average premium will cost about seven percent less. For someone paying three hundred dollars a month, that’s about twenty dollars less for each payment. One reason for that is some doctors and hospitals are treating patients for less. And the state’s top association for physicians is worried that may have unintended consequences.

Colorado Division of Insurance

Health insurance in the Glenwood Springs area will go down by nearly ten percent next year. That’s on average, and it’s compared to an overall average increase of about one percent across Colorado. State officials gave final approval for the lower rates this week. This comes after concerns about especially high insurance in the Roaring Fork Valley, and an earlier flawed attempt to let consumers review rates beforehand. 

State Fails To Make Insurance Prices User Friendly

Aug 25, 2014
Elise Thatcher

If you have health insurance, you can now look up how much it might cost you next year. Colorado's insurance office has posted all rate changes for the coming year, to make sure residents know whether their premiums are going up--and why. But actually finding that information can take hours, and may not turn up results at all. 

Locals Adjust to New Health Care Plans

Jun 16, 2014
Elise Thatcher

     Adjusting to new health insurance rules has been a big shift for just about everyone involved in health care--whether it's patients, nurses or insurance workers. Six months ago the Affordable Care Act started requiring nearly everyone have insurance. We were curious to do a check-up and find out how patients are getting used to new healthcare plans. 

Marci Krivonen

While hospitals across the country work to transition from old-fashioned paper records to electronic data, some doctors in Aspen have already “gone digital.” Aspen Valley Hospital is in the middle of this conversion, which is part of the Affordable Care Act. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports.

Mountain Family Health Centers

Last month, several people raced to sign up for health insurance before the March 31st deadline. Many of those patients qualified for the taxpayer-funded Medicaid program. Turns out, more people signed up for Medicaid than for private insurance in the tri-county area that includes Garfield, Pitkin and Eagle Counties. Now, doctor’s offices that handle these patients are trying to keep up. Aspen Public Radio's Marci Krivonen reports.

Counties Help With Last Minute Health Insurance Signups

Mar 30, 2014
Elise Thatcher

There’s a lot of scrambling going on, as people race to sign up for health care before the national deadline. Today, March 31st, is the last day for most people to sign up for a plan and avoid a tax penalty. Those are the rules under the Affordable Care Act and in Colorado, many people are using the state exchange, Connect for Health Colorado, to sign up. Government agencies have been trying to make it easy for people to purchase a plan… including a recent walk in clinic last Friday, in Aspen.

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