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How do RI health insurance premiums compare?

September 15, 2011

Almost every one feels like they pay too much for their monthly health insurance premiums, but how do these costs compare across the U.S.?

The Kaiser Family Foundation took a look at the cost of individual health insurance premiums (when people buy health insurance without the help of an employer) and made this nifty map-

The white states are ones where Kaiser didn’t have enough information to offer an accurate number.  Data on Califronia is also a little off- it only includes numbers from Wellpoint (Anthem Blue Cross) which covers 57% of folks in CA that buy their own insurance.

If you want to pay the cheapest rates for individual  insurance, head out to Alabama- $136 a month.

But as you can see, all of New England is in the highest cost category-average payments of $250 to $437. That actually sounds low to me. I’ve heard of individuals paying much more.  This footnote at the bottom of the map explains the numbers-

Premiums are per member per month and represent an average across adults and children. Premiums may be lower than a premium typically charged to a single adult.

So for instance, if you had a health plan covering a four person family, the cost per person would be your monthly premium divided by four.

OK, we know health premiums are expensive in New England. How does Rhode Island compare to our neighboring states?

Rhode Island has the third highest individual premiums in New England, and ranks in the top 5 for the most expensive plans in the country.  Notice that Massachusetts has the highest premiums in the country.  More evidence that universal health care doesn’t necessarily lead to cost reductions.

By the way, New Jersey (49. $364) and New York (48. $357) prevented us from falling in line right behind Vermont.

Folks that buy their own insurance- how do these averages match up with our monthly costs? Remember to divide by the number of people in your family on the plan!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Petey permalink
    September 16, 2011 1:08 pm

    Of course Alabama will have lower premiums. Perhaps that is due to the lower wages there? Premiums are not the only cost involved. Are these numbers compared in line with the CPI for the respective regions? What is the overall cost of healthcare in Alabama compared to a New England state? I’m not sure how this shows that universal healthcare doesn’t lead to cost reductions. Were deductibles factored in? Available services? Think about comparing apples to apples, such as identical diagnostic tests, procedures, etc. Also, Alabama has some of the unhealthiest people in the nation.

  2. September 16, 2011 2:12 pm

    Hi Petey-

    Thanks for your comment. Of course, this is only one indicator of health care costs and this issue is WAY too complex to make any judgments based on the average premium costs for individuals.

    Low monthly premium costs in Alabama do not mean the quality of care/insurance is better than in the North East. I hope this post didn’t imply that.

    The question of cost control is pretty common in Massachusetts. I’m sure you follow all the efforts of MA government officials to reduce prices now that a majority of their residents have health insurance. Universal health care *can* lead to cost control, but it doesn’t *necessarily*. There’s still a lot more work to be done.

    Thanks for offering some perspective on these numbers.



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