7 Best and Worst States for Individual Health-Insurance Premiums

For those who don't have the luxury of employer-paid health coverage, finding out what individual coverage costs can be a challenge.

A new study that the Kaiser Family Foundation released in early August could help to make it easier. The foundation analyzed data compiled by Mark Farrah Associates to determine the average premiums for individual health insurance across the U.S. last year.

While the national average monthly premium per person was $215, the prices were all over the place, from a high of $437 in Massachusetts to a low of $136 in Alabama.

The Causes Behind the Costs

Why so much difference? According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, there's plenty of reasons for the range: cost of living; state demographics, such as age distribution; varying health-care costs; the plans' effectiveness at controlling costs; the benefits offered by the different plans, the patient cost-sharing required; and others.

In some places, a higher price is partly due to reforms. Massachusetts and Vermont, for example, require people with pre-existing health conditions to be able to enroll. In states where medical underwriting is permitted, rates may be lower because the risk pools include a healthier-than-average population.

Health Insurance premiums

Then too, just because premiums are lower in some states doesn't mean those patients are necessarily better off. People enrolled in those plans may have to pay higher deductibles or co-payments that offset their savings in premiums.

What It Means for You

What's the takeaway? Shop wisely. "There are a lot of variations," says Gary Claxton, vice president of the Kaiser Family Foundation. "Think about what level of coverage you want. Then, don't rely on one source of information. Check out online brokers as well as an insurance agent."

Know too that even if you live in a state where premiums are high, it doesn't mean you will have to pay top dollar. "Look for plans where you can pay a higher deductible," Claxton says. "You'll get the protection you need at a lower premium, though if you only go to the doctor a couple of times a year, you might have to pay for that out-of-pocket."

In 2014, the Affordable Care Act kicks in. That will mean big changes in how you can buy health insurance on your own. Start studying up now so you'll be ready to make smart moves when they do. Knowledge can give you the power to pay lower premiums.


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379 Comments

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Elsa

While I was looking for a cheap health insurance my friend told me that there are sites, where people can compare prices from many providers.These sites are the only one way to save money on your insurance, because once you register many companies will make you different offers.The site he suggested me was:

---NationalHealthInsurance.info---

I tried them and I saved more than 30%.Try it.Just register and get free quotes!

January 12 2012 at 4:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tflynn0129

I don't know w here you got the State of Florida insurance cost or if you made a mistake-----let me tell you anytime a single person------no wife or kids------- needs insurance, the least you will pay is $350.00 and that has very limited coverage.

September 20 2011 at 11:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
flsunnflowerz

WHERE in Florida can I get health insurance for $178?? I am paying $400 for BCBS with a very high deductible. The coverage is a joke!

August 23 2011 at 9:11 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to flsunnflowerz's comment
isleskr

you can get a hospital only plan and if you live in north florida and are in your early 20's on BCBS its called the Plan 700

August 23 2011 at 10:04 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
ddokken69

Im surprised VA. isn't one of the most expensive this state SUCKS when it comes to everything else!!!!!

August 23 2011 at 5:17 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Jimmy Dean

Many of us who live here in Massachusetts call it "Taxachusetts", and for good reason.

August 23 2011 at 4:36 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Susie

To be polite, I will just say this article is BS. I live in the South and pay $352/month for an individual policy. Yes, I started paying only $125/month..........but that was TEN YEARS AGO!!

August 23 2011 at 4:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Susie's comment
dbdel

To make sense of the minimal information in this article, you have to go to its source(s):

Original Article by Kaiser
http://capsules.kaiserhealthnews.org/index.php/2011/08/health-insurance-premiums-vary-widely-report-says/

This item Includes this paragraph: Now for the caveats: Those prices may not reflect what people actually see when they shop for coverage. That’s because the data cannot be broken out by age, so the average includes children, who are generally less expensive to insure, as well as people in older age ranges, whom insurers commonly charge the most. Medical costs and state laws vary around the country, affecting price. Finally, there was no way to determine differences in the types of coverage being purchased, such as how widely deductibles and co-payments varied. That too, affects price.


Accompanying Map and Listings of Comparative Costs (with additional explanatory information)
http://www.statehealthfacts.org/comparemaptable.jsp?ind=976&cat=5

This page provides lists average costs by state (alphabetically, and ranked from lowest to highest or highest to lowest.

August 23 2011 at 4:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
borderpc

There is a typo in the title : Residents of Massachusetts pay an average of $437/ year to insure themselves -- and that's not even the worst. If that is the case... That is a good deal.. It also says : BUT THAT'S NOT THE HIGHEST" but when you look at the list.... It is the highest... EDITORS???? Plus this story is lame!!!

August 23 2011 at 4:19 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mal

I do agree with Vonpappenheim.....
The illegal aliens have bankrupted many CA hospitals being that they have used our hospital ERs as clinics for their colds and flus. This is a very sad state of affairs.....
I belong to Kaiser and pay almost $800 a mo...being 64 yrs. old. Thankfully, I will be on Medicare shortly. I hate to be a burden on Medicare because I feel that it is an entitlement even though I have paid in my fair share. I do appreciate Kaiser Insurance because it is so wonderfully managed and the care is superior to anything else. I have experienced horrendous increases within the past 10 years, but I believe it is due to the increased costs of nurses and prescriptions. Most nurses in hospitals are making over $60 an hour, working a 12 hr. shift. They only work 3 days....like firemen who retire with $175,000 pensions....NO WONDER CA IS IN FINANCIAL TROUBLE....They can't keep up with the pensions.....most of these firemen play games with their vacation and sick leave....they keep on hoarding it until the last year before they retire in order to increase their pension amount....IT IS NOT RIGHT ...However, the strong state union continues to pack it on for them and all the other government employees (sheriffs, included) in CA. In addition to these unions working for the benefit of gov't employees, many hospital employees are unionized which again raises our insurance premiums. Between out of control pensions and unions, we are doomed!

August 23 2011 at 3:32 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
dbdel

To make sense of the minimal information in this article, you have to go to its source(s):

Original Article by Kaiser
http://capsules.kaiserhealthnews.org/index.php/2011/08/health-insurance-premiums-vary-widely-report-says/

This item Includes this paragraph: Now for the caveats: Those prices may not reflect what people actually see when they shop for coverage. That’s because the data cannot be broken out by age, so the average includes children, who are generally less expensive to insure, as well as people in older age ranges, whom insurers commonly charge the most. Medical costs and state laws vary around the country, affecting price. Finally, there was no way to determine differences in the types of coverage being purchased, such as how widely deductibles and co-payments varied. That too, affects price.


Accompanying Map and Listings of Comparative Costs (with additional explanatory information)
http://www.statehealthfacts.org/comparemaptable.jsp?ind=976&cat=5

This page provides lists average costs by state (alphabetically, and ranked from lowest to highest or highest to lowest.

August 23 2011 at 3:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
abrath8793

Health care in this country is BIG BUSINESS. It is NOT going away. The drug companies are BIG BUSINESS and they're not going away.It's actually laughable to think this country would be able to cap the money doctors and hospitals are making. First you would have to CHOP OFF the arm that feeds this monster. You expect congressmen and women to throw in the towel and cut out their perks? Not in my district. This place is called the "United" states but we are far from it when it comes to things like civil rights,health care and a million other issues.Driving from NY to Calif. here is like driving in Europe from "country" to country",no different. They all have their own rules.

August 23 2011 at 3:12 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply