Massachusetts leads nation in premium costs for individual health insurance
At $437, Massachusetts had the highest monthly premium per person for individual health insurance in 2010, according to new figures from the Kaiser Family Foundation. Meanwhile, Alabama had the lowest monthly premium — $136.
Nationwide, the average was $215 a month.
The Kaiser Family Foundation used data pulled from insurers’ filings with the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and the California Department of Managed Health Care to come up with the average monthly premiums. The nonprofit foundation tracks health care issues.
The foundation says its analysis “provides an important baseline that consumers and policymakers can use to gauge the state of insurance affordability prior to the full implementation of health reform.”
States such as Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Vermont have instituted insurance reforms that enable people with pre-existing conditions to buy coverage, resulting in higher average premiums, the foundation says. Other states let insurers exclude people with expensive illnesses, the foundation says, so average premiums reflect a healthier-than-normal population.
Starting in 2014, the federal health care reform law will prohibit insurers in all states from charging more to cover people who have pre-existing conditions.
Forty-three states plus the District of Columbia were included in the foundation’s analysis, which took into account individual health insurance for adults and children. Seven states — Alaska, Kansas, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma and Texas — were excluded from the analysis because of a lack of data.
Behind Massachusetts in the most-expensive category for monthly premiums were:
• Vermont — $401.
• New Jersey — $364.
• New York — $357.
• Rhode Island — $344.
• West Virginia — $333.
On the other end of the scale, California had the second-lowest average monthly premium ($157 per person) after Alabama.
Behind Alabama and California were:
• Arkansas — $163.
• Idaho — $167.
• Delaware — $169.
• Utah — $173.
• Florida — $178.
Aside from whether states mandate coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, reasons that premiums vary from state to state include cost of living, health care costs and state demographics, the foundation says.
Individual health insurance is an option for people who are self-employed, working part time, unemployed or working for a business that doesn’t offer health coverage, according to AARP. Typically, individual health insurance costs more than employer-sponsored health insurance, since employer-provided plans spread an insurer’s risk among many people.