In case you missed the January update for the Connect for Health Colorado (that’s the Colorado health exchange) recently released its enrollment figures and, shockingly, they aren’t great. A few days later, the Wall Street Journal‘s Marketwatch blog also released a survey of the “10 Most Expensive Areas to Buy Health Insurance in the U.S.” Colorado topped the list.
OMG, could the two issues be related?
The January 31st Connect for Health Colorado press release touted the fact that they have a whopping 69,000 “sign-ups” since the health exchange began last October. It’s unclear what portion of those “sign-ups” were actual enrollments or just accounts created (can someone define a “sign-up”?). Since we’re feeling generous, let’s say all of those are actually enrollments. Of those enrollments, let’s say those are all private insurance enrollments, not Medicaid. The goal by March 31, 2014 was 136,000 enrollees. That was the number that made this scheme viable – almost double the existing numbers. Seems daunting. The exchange also notes in the update that it has started yet another new marketing push. Coincidence?
Three days after the January update from C4HC, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Kaiser Family Foundation named Colorado’s mountain towns the most expensive place in the country to buy insurance. The survey evaluated the prices of premiums for the lowest-cost silver plan for a 40-year old person and found Colorado Mountain Resorts to be the worst. The amorphous “Colorado Mountain Resorts” include Eagle, Garfield and Pitkin counties where the lowest-cost silver plan was a whopping $483.
The average wage in Garfield County was $42,254. The median home value was $344,000. Assuming that those in the $42,000 income bracket are paying an effective tax rate of around 15%, they’re taking home around $3,000 per month. Assuming a $275,000 loan for 30 years at 5% interest, this average person is paying around $1,300 in mortgage payments, exclusive of utilities, taxes and insurance. The bottom line is that $483 for a single person for insurance isn’t that great of a deal, actually. And, what if that 40-year old has a family, the insurance rates increase even more.
The point of this exercise is to answer the question – how is Obamacare helping Coloradans? The answer – it’s not.