Profile of the uninsured in Colorado

The Colorado Health Institute's (CHI) second annual profile of uninsured Coloradans finds that Colorado’s uninsured rate has not changed significantly in the last five years. Unfortunately, this still means that about 770,000 people (17.1%) lacked health insurance in 2003-04. Colorado continues to exceed the national average of 15.7 percent.

The CHI study also shows that young adults between the ages of 18 and 34 accounted for the largest proportion of uninsured Coloradans – 39.5 percent — in 2002-04 and that three-fourths of Colorado’s uninsured adult population between the ages of 18 and 64 had jobs at some time during the year.

Perhaps in response Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield in Colorado is offering – a low-cost plan that provides coverage to residents who are 19 to 29 years old. Premiums cost $96 to $132 a month, at least $20 a month less than comparable individual health-insurance plans. The plan has already attracted attention in other states such as California.

The insurer's three plans (thrill-seeker, part-time daredevil, and calculated risktaker) uses x-gen lingo to speak to the under 30 crowd and attract attention.

Not everyone is trilled by the effort.

The insurance chief in Tonik's home state of California, however, sees little more than an insurer (Wellpoint) trying to pad its profits.

"It's a slicing and dicing of the marketplace to identify those individuals who are willing to buy a policy and are not likely to need it," California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi said. "It's called cherry-picking."

Garamendi said the PPO products within WellPoint's Blue Cross of California, which includes Tonik, have a profit margin of roughly 25 percent. At the same time, he said, people who need more comprehensive coverage are finding it harder to get as many employers cut or reduce benefits because of higher costs.

"It's a process that will ultimately lead to a further decline in the entire health systems," Garamendi said.

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