SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. -- Small business owners and families across Summit County are continually asking why health insurance premiums continue to skyrocket in their small mountain communities.
County leaders are calling the cost of living, healthcare and childcare catastrophic for those living there.
The state released new insurance premium figures last week that show the state premiums are up about 2 percent overall, and 21 percent in Summit County alone, from this time last year.
It has some like John and Kate Hudnut, who run a small business in Frisco, asking for help from the state.
The Hudnut’s daughter has asthma and they say they simply can’t do without health insurance.
“It’s been a challenge, there’s no doubt about it. It’s our second-largest expense every month, and every year it’s a little bit of a gamble as to how much it’s going to go up,” said Kate Hudnut. “We have what I call major medical -- you know, we have kind of a safety net plan, it gives us maybe a doctor’s visit or two a year with a co-pay. We have a basic prescription drug plan to cover her inhalers on a monthly basis -- we still pay out of pocket for those.”
The Hudnuts, along with others from around the state, attended a public forum in front of the state insurance commissioner Tuesday to ask for help with lower premiums in 2018 and beyond.
“Bring our rates down. We apparently have some of the highest rates in the country," Kate said. "Is there a solution? Is there a way to pool us all together with other counties in the state?"
Hudnut said she has seen first-hand how these high premiums and cost of living are impacting others who live in Summit County.
“People are taking part time jobs that have insurance, you know. It’s now working for the ski area, doing what they can do to make ends meet, and certainly people have relocated and gone to the Front Range, where they’re paying $200 to $300\ a month less every month for the same insurance policy,” said Kate Hudnut.
The earliest relief wouldn’t come until this time next year, when the numbers are released for 2018.
Insurance premium information for the state of Colorado can be found here.