Health Insurance Pricing Experiment – 4 Years Later. . .

Back in July of 2009, when the Health Reform debate was just heating up and before anything was passed into law, I did a little health insurance pricing experiment.

As you can see from my previous post, I used my family’s information (at the time, I was ONLY 38 and my wife and I only had 2 children) and compared my family’s insurance options assuming we lived in EITHER Austin, Boston (where MA had enacted their own Health Reform in 2006) OR New Orleans.  The results were extremely eye-opening for me.

Well, now that the rest of the country has jumped on board with Federal Health Reform and we are now just months away from the implementation of major changes – guaranteed issue insurance, Federal Marketplaces, etc., let’s take a look at how pricing and coverage options have evolved in the last 4 years.  Just like before, I used our quote engine and the Massachusetts Health Connector site to compare current options.  Now, I am 42, my wife is 39 and we have a 10 year old, 8 year old and a 2 year old.  Here is what I found:

  • In Austin, my family and I would have 212 health plans to choose from.  These plans range from a low of $286.99 to $2,148.95 per month.
  • In New Orleans, my family and I would have 147 health plans to choose from.  These plans range from a low of $182.29 to $1,813.17 per month.
  • In Boston, my family and I would have 66 health plans to choose from.  These plans range from a low of $890.00 to $2,530.00 per month.

So, apparently, where I live still has a very BIG impact on my insurance options and cost.  To recap:

  • In either Austin or New Orleans, I would have more than twice the plan options to choose from (223% more in New Orleans and 321% more in Austin).
  • In either Austin or New Orleans, my LEAST EXPENSIVE plan option is about 1/4th the cost (20.4% in New Orleans and 32.2% in Austin) of the least expensive plan offered in Boston.
  • In either Austin or New Orleans, my MOST EXPENSIVE plan option is about 20% more expensive (39.5% more than New Orleans and 17.8% more than Austin) than the most expensive plan offered in Boston.

To me, this means (as it did 4 years ago) that our BEST GUESS about the effect of Health Reform is that it will limit choices and increase costs.  Given where we already are with respect to pricing, I don’t think that is a model that is sustainable long term.

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