Analysis: Cost of Covered Calif. Health Plans Vary by Region
Health premiums for plans offered through Covered California, the state's health insurance exchange, can vary by hundreds of dollars across different regions of California, according to an analysis by Digital First Media, the Los Angeles Daily News reports.
Details of Report
For the report, researchers analyzed the effects of federal subsidies on individual health plans purchased on both federal and state health insurance exchanges.
The report found that before federal subsidies are taken into account, the average cost of premiums in California is the eighth highest nationwide. However, the average cost of premiums in the state declined when tax credits were considered.
The analysis found that premiums varied throughout the state, depending on competition among insurers. Prices can vary based on the:
- Expected number of enrollees in insurers' plans; and
- Number of providers available on plans.
For instance, the report found that a 50-year-old woman living in Sacramento who makes $40,215 per year and chooses a silver-level health plan through Covered California would spend about $3,619 on health insurance annually. However, if the same woman lived in Inyo County, she would spend just $2,412 annually, according to the analysis.
Shana Alex Lavarreda -- director of health insurance studies and a research scientist at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research -- said that California's high prevalence of managed care plans also has spurred more competition in the state.
Charles Bacchi, executive vice president for the California Association of Health Plans, said, "The amount of premium someone pays for health insurance is directly related to how much their medical care costs in their local community," adding, "Regions with higher medical costs have higher premiums, and regions with lower medical costs have lower premiums."
Health Net spokesperson Brad Kieffer said, "Even though the areas are compact and the regions are next to each other, there are variations in provider costs and hospital costs, and there are population differences, too, in an individual's health status and their health care consumption patterns." Kieffer added, "All these factors lead to different premiums between those three different regions" (Abram, Los Angeles Daily News, 3/1).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.