This Wall Street Journal article reports the effects of proposed health care reform on health insurance premiums for groups and individuals, according to a study by the CBO and the Joint Committee on Taxation. With regards to individual premiums, the articles states that
“According to the analysis, under current law some 14 million people are expected to buy health policies on their own by 2016. Average premiums would be roughly $5,800 for single policies and $15,200 for family policies under the legislation, compared with $5,500 for single policies and $13,100 for family policies under current law. The legislation is expected to more than double the number of people who would buy health policies on their own.“
This indicates that current individual-market annual premiums are $5,500 for an individual and $13,100 for a family. That would mean that the average family buying their own health insurance is paying over a thousand dollars a month for a policy. In our experience with clients in Colorado, almost none of them purchase a policy that expensive – not even close. Most of our clients buy policies with premiums that are much more in line with the results of an eHealth study, usually under $200/month for a single person, and under $500/month for a family.
I think that perhaps the CBO and the Joint Committee for Taxation confused average group health insurance premiums with those in the individual market. Under current law, which allows for medical underwriting in most states, individual health insurance is significantly less expensive than group coverage – for those who can qualify based on medical history. If we end up with reform that adds additional mandatory coverage (like maternity care) to all individual policies and requires coverage to be guaranteed issue without mandating that everyone be part of the insurance pool, we might well end up with premiums for individual policies that are similar to what was mentioned in the WSJ article. But for now, individual health insurance premiums aren’t even close to that amount.