Garfield County is facing high insurance rates

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GARFIELD COUNTY, Colo. Garfield County will now pay one of the highest insurance rates in Colorado under the Affordable Care Act.

A new geographical rating area classifies Garfield County as a "resort" joining with Pitkin, Eagle and Summit counties. Garfield County is now looking for ways to change that, to make it more affordable for residents.

Garfield County resident Emily Miller said her rates will double and may pay $800 a month for health insurance. "I can't afford changing," said Miller.

Miller also said, "I hope the county will contest this and that Garfield will be put in where it should be... like Mesa County."

Garfield County Attorney Frank Hutfless said it doesn't make sense for residents to pay more. Especially, when the average costs of common medical procedures there is less than the state average. "To construct a real meaningful geographic rating areas... that didn't happen," said Hutfless.

Hutfless also said the cost of medical care in Garfield County is less than the other counties in its rating area."As it turns out, was simply perpetuate 7 of the geographic rating areas that have existed for decades in the state and divide two of those rating areas into four. That's all they did, that's it," said Hutfless.

Hutfless said the problem started with two letters sent back in March. The letters showed that the state didn't do its own research and just followed a lobbying groups recommendations. "The state has been saying all along that oh oops, one of the reasons for this problem, we just didn't have adequate enough time... the state knew in 2010 when the Affordable Care Act was coming into existence that they're would be regulatory changes in light of that philosophies," he said.

Now Garfield County is figuring out what it can do to help residents like Miller. "I'm just hoping that the whole healthcare exchange thing will work out and that Garfield County will be put where it should be," said Miller.

"What we are saying is, make these rates affordable so that people have the incentive to sign up for this program," said Hutfless.

On Monday, the Hutfless will discuss three options for Garfield County Commissioners: enlist support from the governor, ask for an investigation by the state legislature or ask for a congressional investigation into the approval of these rating areas.

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