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California health insurance cost for individuals could be worse

MEDICAL BRACELET Californians who bemoan high insurance premiums may not have it as bad as they think. It turns out that people in other states pay a lot more for health coverage.

A new analysis of individual insurance markets across the country shows that Californians pay $157 a month on average for coverage.

Nationally, individual     policyholders pay an average $215 a month, according to the study by the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation.

The least expensive state is Alabama. Policyholders in that state’s individual market pay an average $136 a month. The most expensive states include Massachusetts and Vermont, where individuals pay more than $400 a month on average.

The Kaiser analysts said that the variation in premiums across states is due to different costs of living, healthcare spending, the age of the insured populations and other factors.

The study said insurance tends to be more expensive in states that have broadened access to insurance by making it easier for people with preexisting conditions to get policies.

Meanwhile, states such as California that allow health insurers to reject applicants because of their medical conditions may have lower costs because insurers can weed out unhealthy people who drive up medical spending.

The study also noted that policyholders in lower-cost states may face higher deductibles and out-of-pocket spending that offset any savings from cheaper premiums.

The study based its California findings on the largest insurer in the individual market, Anthem Blue Cross.

RELATED:

Hospitals not immune to rising insurance costs for their staffs

Good news for Californians with preexisting medical conditions

Insurance companies boost investments in inner cities, rural areas

-- Duke Helfand 

 Photo credit: capturedbychelsea via Flickr

 
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