Tool Allows Consumers to Compare Health Insurance Premium Ranges

On October 1, health insurance marketplaces opened in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. While there were many media reports of difficulties accessing individual state sites or the main marketplace website, healthcare.gov, consumers have until December 15 to enroll in a health plan for coverage that starts January 1, 2014.

Rating Areas

In 36 states, the federal government is administering the health insurance marketplace. HHS is maintaining a premium databook for consumers to use to research the cost of various health plans in these 36 states. 45 CFR Part 147 requires each state to have a set number of geographic rating areas that all health insurance plans in the state must uniformly use as part of their rate setting. In most states, a rating area includes one or more counties.

The following bits of information are displayed in the premium databook –

  • The age used to determine rates
  • The number of rating areas in the state
  • The minimum premium for a catastrophic, bronze, silver, or gold plan in the state
  • The second lowest silver rate premium in the state
  • The total number of each type of plan in a rating area

Sample Premiums

Using the tool and looking for rates for similar plans for people of different ages in Illinois, the databook shows that for a 26-year-old living in Cook County (the largest population area in the state) the lowest cost bronze plan premium is $121.99 per month; the lowest cost silver plan premium is $168.46 per month; and the lowest cost gold plan premium is $197.00 per month. For a 50-year-old, the premiums are $212.77, $293.81, and $343.59 per month, respectively. Seven different health insurance companies are offering a total of 80 qualified health plans in Cook County.