Competitive Denver Insurance Market Awaits National Health Reform

Media Advisory
June 13, 2013

Alwyn Cassil (202) 264-3484 or

WASHINGTON, DC—Despite waiting until nearly the 11th hour to approve a Medicaid expansion, Colorado is at the forefront of preparing for national health reform relative to many other states, according to a new Community Report released today by Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC).

Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) and based on interviews with local health care leaders in 2012-13, the study examined the Denver region’s commercial and Medicaid insurance markets.

Even before passage of national health reform, Colorado was proactive in regulating the small-group insurance market and expanding Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) to more low-income adults and children. And, Colorado was among the first states to pass legislation creating a state-run health insurance exchange.

Still, similar to other markets, Denver-area health plan executives, benefits consultants, brokers and others expressed concerns about the market’s readiness for open enrollment in the exchange on Oct. 1.Top concerns include the uncertainty about the impact of health reform on risk selection and premium costs. Market observers also predicted changes in employer health benefit strategies as they attempt to maintain affordable coverage.

Key findings of the report, Denver: Competitive Insurance Market Awaits National Health Reform, which is available online at, include:

As health reform unfolds in the coming years, there will be ongoing issues to track in the Denver-area health care market, including:

Denver is one of eight metropolitan areas, HSC researchers are studying on behalf of RWJF’s State Health Reform Assistance Network initiative—the others are Baltimore; Portland, Ore.; Long Island, N.Y.; Minneapolis/St. Paul; Birmingham, Ala.; Richmond, Va.; and Albuquerque, N.M.

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The Center for Studying Health System Change is a nonpartisan policy research organization committed to providing objective and timely research on the nation's changing health system to help inform policy makers and contribute to better health care policy. HSC, based in Washington, D.C., is affiliated with Mathematica Policy Research.