Health Insurance Marketplace Plans Vary Widely in Price

Jordan Rau & Julie Appleby | Government Technology | October 7, 2013

Consumers shopping in the new health insurance marketplaces will face a bewildering array of competing plans in some counties and sparse options in other places, with people in some areas of the country having to pay much more for the identical level of coverage than consumers elsewhere.

A Kaiser Health News analysis of the 1,923 plans being sold on federally run online marketplaces found wide variations of price and availability. For instance, Cigna is offering 50-year-olds one of its midlevel plans for $614 if they live in Flagstaff, Ariz. That same plan, contracting with different hospitals and doctors, will cost $428 in Phoenix and just $395 in Nashville...

...The large number of plans in some places masks the fact that there aren't that many insurers actually competing. In Miami-Dade County in Florida there are nine insurers selling 137 plans; Florida Blue alone offers 52 of them. Few markets are as competitive as is Miami. Nationwide, 18 percent of counties have only one insurer offering plans and 33 percent of counties have only two insurers competing, the KHN analysis found.

Open Health News' Take: 

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) and the online Health Insurance Exchanges (HIX) are finally bringing the prices charged for health insurance across the country out into the open. This can only be good for consumers over the long haul. It exposes those plans and geographic regions that are way too expensive. This should result in more competition as consumers start seeking more reasonably priced alternatives. We'll find out over the next 2-3 years.  -  Peter Groen, Senior Editor, OHNews