-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
WEDNESDAY, Aug. 17 (HealthDay News) -- The cost of health care
is a hot-button issue for most Americans, and new research on that
topic shows that health insurance premiums for individuals vary
widely around the country.
Although the average per-person monthly premium in the United
States in 2010 was $215, researchers from the Kaiser Family
Foundation found that these monthly insurance premiums could vary
by up to $300 from state to state. The huge discrepancy in premiums
was based on several factors, including an area's cost of living
and demographics, they noted.
In performing the analysis, which the foundation has made
available online, researchers found that some states, such as
Vermont and Massachusetts, have the highest average premiums (more
than $400 per month), because they've already introduced insurance
market reforms allowing people with pre-existing conditions to
Although national health reform legislation will prohibit
insurers from charging more for pre-existing conditions beginning
in 2014, right now some states allow insurers to exclude those with
costly medical conditions, lowering average premiums, the study
The researchers found several more reasons for the wide
discrepancy in monthly premiums around the country, including
variations in cost of living, health care costs, demographics,
regulatory requirements, and plans' benefits, cost-sharing
structure and ability to control costs.
Unlike employer-based coverage, the researchers noted that
individual insurance plans typically have higher patient
cost-sharing and greater benefit limitations. The Affordable Care
Act, however, sets limits on patients' out-of-pocket expenses and
establishes a minimum package of benefits that plans must offer,
the authors of the analysis noted.
The Kaiser Family Foundation researchers concluded that their
analysis should serve as a guideline for consumers as well as
policymakers in determining the affordability of health
The Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization
dedicated to the analysis of health issues.
HealthCare.gov has more about
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