Insurance commissioner, industry reps, consumers tackle cost drivers

By Katie Kerwin McCrimmon

Colorado Insurance Commissioner Marguerite Salazar has convened her Health Care Cost Study Group.

Salazar appointed industry representatives, health policy cost experts and consumers to the group, which began meeting last week.

Angry residents of Summit County in Colorado's most expensive area for health insurance premiums packed a meeting that Colorado Insurance Commissioner Marguerite Salazar held in December.

Angry residents of Summit County in Colorado’s most expensive area for health insurance premiums packed a meeting that Colorado Insurance Commissioner Marguerite Salazar held in December.

The Colorado resort region that includes Aspen, Vail and Garfield and Summit counties has the highest health insurance premiums in the nation, according to an analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation. (Click here to read Colorado ski towns priciest in the nation, no help from the feds.)

Earlier this year, Salazar decided not to change Colorado’s geographic rating system for either this year or next. (Click here to read Controversial health ratings won’t change for 2015.) But she wants the study group to produce proposals for reducing health costs and premiums by May.

“It will be a challenge to dig into the costs of health care and the factors behind those costs, but this group is up to the challenge,” Salazar said in a written statement. “This is the first step in a journey to a better understanding.”

Officials in Garfield County have said they plan to sue the state by the end of March. They believe their historic health costs are lower than the high-cost counties with which they’ve been grouped. (Click here to read Garfield County moves forward with suit over rates and  here to read Garfield County may sue, accuses state of rubberstamping insurance lobbyists’ plan.) Salazar included a Garfield County Commissioner and a consumer from Garfield County in the group.

Along with Salazar, the study group includes:

·        Tracy Campbell – Director, All Payers Claims Database, CIVHC

·        Edie Sonn – Interim CEO and Vice President of Strategic Initiatives, CIVHC

·        Chris Tholen – Vice President of Financial Policy, Colorado Hospital Association

·        Ben Price – Executive Director, Colorado Association of Health Plans

·        Marc Reece – Associate Director, Colorado Association of Health Plans

·        Tom Jankovsky – Garfield County Commissioner

·        Jim Markuson – Garfield County resident

·        Dr. Alfred Gilchrist — CEO, Colorado Medical Society

·        Dr. John Bender – Chairman and President, Colorado Medical Society

·        Debra Judy – Policy Director, Colorado Consumer Health Initiative

·        Amy Downs – Senior Director for Policy and Analysis, Colorado Health Institute

·        Kyle Brown – Senior Health Policy Analyst, Colorado Center on Law and Policy

·        Tom Able – Supervisor, Life, Accident and Health, Rates & Forms, Division of Insurance

·        Tara Smith – Rate / Financial Analyst, Rates & Forms, Division of Insurance

·        Peg Brown — Deputy Director, Division of Insurance

·        John Postolowski – Deputy Director, Division of Insurance

·        Jo Donlin – Director of External Affairs, Division of Insurance

 

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