Colorado employers feeling the double-digit pain of Obamacare

Colorado employers are looking at a double-digit increase in the cost of providing health insurance to their employees, according to a new study cited by the Denver Business Journal.

The projected increase of 10.9 percent comes after two years where the rate of premium increases had fallen, the newspaper reported.

Once again, the Affordable Care Act is to blame, along with rising costs for health services, according to Bill Lindsay, president of Lockton Benefit Group in Denver, which conducted the study.

“Health care costs are going up for all of the above reasons — hospital construction, pharmaceutical costs, the aging population,” Lindsay told the paper. “But we know the ACA by itself is going to add to the cost.”

The soaring increase follows two single-digit years — rates rose by 9.4 percent in 2012 and by 7.4 percent in 2013.

“[T]he 667 business respondents view the rising costs of getting care and the effects of federal health care reform as the main reasons that they will be paying more next year,” according to the article, “ranking those well above more insurance-driven factors such as technology costs and insurer profits.”

The study is the latest in a string of bad news for Coloradans. Last week, the state insurance division reported that the policies for nearly a quarter of a million residents would be cancelled because they didn’t comply with the provisions of Obamacare. To date, the state-run health care exchange has only signed up about 3,400 people, a fraction of what was expected.

On Thursday, President Obama said that he would try to fix the troubled new health care law to allow those who want to keep their current plans to do so, even if they don’t comply with the provisions of the law.

Colorado Sen. Mark Udall was among the Democrats offering bills to make the change, introducing a measure that would allow people to keep their policies through Dec. 31, 2015.

The Lockton study said that 86 percent of employers surveyed would pass along at least some of the costs of rising premiums to its employees. Nearly 90 percent of the employers surveyed said they would continue to offer healthcare rather than send employees to the state health care exchange.

“These increases come at an especially difficult time for employers who are just starting to see the economy improve,” Lindsay told the Journal. “It will also be difficult for employees, many of whom may be tempted to decline coverage, just when the country is seeking to expand it.”

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