Why ACA Compliant Plan Premiums Will Vary Significantly In 2014

David Williams did an excellent job with the most recent edition of the Health Wonk Review – be sure to check it out.  One post that everyone should read comes from Health Affairs Blog, and was written by Joel Ario, Adam Block and Ian Spatz.  They dig into the details of Silver plan premiums in four major US cities, finding lots of variation in pricing in some areas, and surprisingly little variation in others.  As premiums have been slowly publicized over the last several weeks, I’ve seen numerous articles describing rates for ACA-compliant plans and how they vary from one Why ACA Compliant Plan Premiums Will Vary Significantly In 2014plan to another within the same metal designation.  But the Health Affairs article is the most thorough and helpful that I’ve read.  The authors not only explain the details, but they also provide five very well-reasoned explanations for rate variation.  If you’re confused about premiums for ACA-compliant plans, this article is a must-read.  It’s also helpful in terms of helping people understand how plans can differ – even at the same metal level – beyond the basic deductible/copay amounts.

Wide variation in health insurance rates is nothing new.  When I run current quotes (not yet 2014 ACA-compliant) for my own family, I get 11 pages of results, with prices ranging from $238/month to $1889/month.  Much of that is explained by the vast differences in deductibles ($10,000 for the lowest priced plan, $500 for the highest), but even if I focus on plans that all have the same deductible ($5000, just to pick a middle-of-the-road number), I still get rates that range from $325/month to $924/month.  Plan designs can vary greatly from one carrier to another, and provider networks make a big difference in terms of explaining premium variation from one area to another within a state (as an example here in Colorado, the carriers that offer the best rates in the Denver metro area and along the front range are typically not the same carriers that offer the best rates in the mountains or even in nearby Boulder, and much of the variation has to do with provider networks).

So it’s not at all surprising that rates will be significantly different from one carrier to another next year, both in and out of the exchanges.  In most states […]

Health Insurance Premiums And The Public Option

David Williams has written an insightful article about how big business concerns about a public health insurance option might be overly dramatic. I do understand the concerns that business owners have, since they believe that a public option will lead to costs being pushed onto private health insurance carriers, who in turn would charge higher premiums. There is no doubt that businesses have felt the sting of rising health insurance premiums for years now. In Colorado, employer-sponsored health insurance premiums rose by almost 87% between 2000 and 2009, while wages increased by only 20.5% over those years. Employees are increasingly seeing higher premiums deducted from their pay, combined with higher deductibles and copays. But employers still pay the lion’s share of many employees’ health insurance premiums, and the prospect of even higher premiums isn’t likely to sit well with them […]

50th Cav and Student Health Insurance

These plans (even the ones not issued through MEGA Life & Health) offer the same misleading general information that most people don’t look much beyond – a low deductible, 80/20 coinsurance, copays for doctors visits and Rx, and even maternity coverage. Check out the plan information for Colorado State University (CSU) and Colorado University (CU) […]

Daily Dialysis Dramatically Better

I came across this article today about the benefits of home hemodialysis. My father has been on dialysis for nearly 7 years, since a rare autoimmune disease destroyed his kidneys in the summer of 2001. He was on hemodialysis for a while, and then switched to peritoneal dialysis. That worked for a couple years until […]

Anthem Blue Cross of Colorado Small Group Health Insurance News

Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield health insurance recently announced the expansion of their HMOSelect network in Colorado to Elbert, El Paso and Teller counties effective November 1, 2006. What this means For cost-conscious Small Group employers, there’s bound to be an HMOSelect plan that fits their unique needs. These employers can make the most […]

Smoking Ban Reduces Heart Attacks

A study done in the 18 months after Pueblo, Colorado enacted its smoking ban in 2003 shows a 27 percent decrease in hospital admissions for heart attacks for city residents. The study was led by Dr. Carl Bartecchi, a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver. “Heart attack […]