When the Affordable Care Act removed medical underwriting from the individual health insurance picture, it became easier to get insured. But because insurers must accept every applicant, including the unhealthy, expensive ones, something had to be done so that insurance companies wouldn’t go bankrupt.
For consumers, this means additional taxes, and higher individual health insurance premiums. Many insurers called the leap in premiums from 2013 to 2014 “rate shock”.
The law known as Obamacare doesn’t let individuals pay too much for coverage, however, so rates could only increase within federal guidelines.
Before the ACA, most states allowed insurers to increase premiums based on gender, weight and other factors that suggest a higher probability of going to the doctor. Under the law, insurers are required to raise rates only for age, region and smoking, and are stripped of the ability to protect themselves from high-risk, high-cost medical conditions.
Essentially, premium rates aren’t what they used to be. Off the exchanges, prices have gone up in the individual market, while on the exchanges, consumers have access to subsidies that substantially reduce monthly premiums.
In these studies, we illustrate premium rates on and off the exchanges, across the four main coverage levels (platinum, gold, bronze and silver) in the largest cities in the United States. We’ll compare costs for the average 30-year-old shopper and find the cities offering plans at the greatest value.
With this information, you can get a better feel for what coverage costs in your area, how expensive or inexpensive a good health plan will be, how “shocking” the rate increases actually were, and so on.
We searched the Obamacare marketplaces for the most reasonable rates providing good coverage and ranked each city by health plan cost.
We’ve discovered the best and worst cities for buying qualified health plans on the individual market under Obamacare. This is our comprehensive list of gold-level premiums in the 50 most populous cities.
Find out how much the ACA actually changed rates in 2014.