Colorado exchange draws competition while 2 states ask HHS for help

Colorado's state-run health insurance exchange has drawn the attention of 11 insurers seeking to sell about 250 health plans to individuals and small groups.

"We are very encouraged by the number of health insurance carriers that want to participate in Colorado," Colorado Insurance Commissioner Jim Riesberg said in a statement. "It's a new world for health insurance. These will be new plans, with new premiums and new benefit packages, developed to meet new requirements."

Premiums proposed by those 11 insurers, which the insurance department didn't disclose, vary widely. For example, a 40-year-old non-smoking consumer in a mid-level plan could pay rates as low as $265 or as high as $405 a month for an individual plan, reported the Denver Business Journal.

Meanwhile, two other states–Idaho and New Mexico–have asked the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services for help in establishing and running their exchanges. Although they originally planned to operate their own versions of the online marketplaces, Idaho and New Mexico both admitted to obstacles toward meeting that goal, including preparing computer system for the Oct. 1 open enrollment deadline, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The states pointed to HHS's delaying the publication of exchange rules until March, which didn't provide adequate prep time to ensure they can process consumer applications. "It's a real task to be able to put this all in place by Oct. 1," James Damron, chairman of New Mexico's health insurance exchange board, told the WSJ.

In Idaho, where a board overseeing its exchange wasn't established until last month, officials have decided to let HHS run the enrollment and eligibility portions since it hasn't yet chosen a contractor to perform that work.

To learn more:
- here's the statement
- read the Denver Business Journal article
- check out the Wall Street Journal article

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