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A Milestone Health Coverage Amendment On The Ballot: The Pros And Cons of ColoradoCare

The people of the state of Colorado have a major decision to make on November 8th. It’s not only the vote to elect our next President --I won't even touch that one; it’s a vote to decide on the future of their healthcare system/coverage for every citizen of Colorado. A single-payer health system, like the one covering our friends north of our border and across the pond could be coming to the Rocky Mountain state. The last state to attempt implementation of a single-payer system was Vermont. After a few years of trying to determine a path forward, Vermont has all but abandoned this idea.

This single-payer ballot measure is more formally known as Amendment 69 or ColoradoCare. It will affect all types of coverage ranging from individual and employer-based insurance to workers’ compensation and Medicaid.

The advocates promise universal coverage for every citizen (no more uninsured) and the detractors see it as a budget-buster (almost doubling the state budget). Some polls indicate the outcome is too close to call. As usual, the devil is in the details, so let's break this down to understand the possibilities for our friends in Colorado.

All in favor, say “Aye.”
Proponents of the measure see a huge benefit in that all Colorado citizens will be covered by or supplemented by a universal medical plan. Additionally, the group ColoradoCare Yes states that the “savings are projected to be $4.5 billion per year.” Uncovered medical costs causing personal bankruptcies would be significantly reduced. However, other than a promise of comprehensive coverage and lower out-of-pocket costs to offset new taxes, the plan structure and cost sharing is unknown and will be determined at a later time.

All opposed, say “Nay.”
Now, for those opposing ColoradoCare. The plan will be funded by a new payroll tax imposed on all-sized businesses, as well as another 10% tax for individuals to pay on non-payroll income. The additional payroll tax will make up of 67% from employers and 33% from individuals. The overall Colorado budget will almost double in size, going from about $27 billion to $52 billion. Should the single-payer system pass, the following are likely outcomes being raised by the opponents;

  • This substantial new tax will drive businesses out of state and limit new companies moving into Colorado.
  • There's concern that doctors will move out of state or evolve into a two-tiered system favoring individuals who will “pay up” and buy supplemental coverage to see the top providers--similar to other countries with a government-run single-payer health plan.
  • If the costs run higher than projected, how will the state pay for it--raise the tax or cut the benefits or provider payments?

Keep an eye on this vote and how it could affect your business and employees located in Colorado. If you’re voting in Colorado, make sure you understand both sides of this monumental amendment that could reshape your healthcare system for years to come. Should Amendment 69 pass, we’ll update you accordingly about the implications for implementation and what it could mean to other states considering a similar path.