GAO provides benchmark premium pricing info

A year before most of the reform law provisions were implemented, insurers were charging individual consumers a wide range of prices for premiums, deductibles and co-insurance, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office.

The report was written at the request of Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who wanted benchmark pricing data so policymakers can analyze whether the reform law has succeeded in impacting costs.

The GAO published the costs of base premiums for insurance coverage in a July report, as FierceHealthPayer previously reported, but it only accounted for base premiums, so insurers could have actually charged higher premiums for certain consumers. This report expands upon that work to include ranges of base premiums for more categories of individuals.

Analysts found, for example, that yearly base rates for a single, 19-year old male nonsmoker in California were between $672 and $11,664. A single, nonsmoking, 64-year old male in California had base rates ranging from $3,096 to $26,928. The highest costing policy for both consumers included a $2,000 deductible and $3,000 out-of-pocket maximum.

Meanwhile, that 19-year old consumer would have seen rates ranging from $1,986 to $24,324 if he lived in New York. And premium rates in Texas would have cost that same consumer between $363 and $4,790, the GAO found.

But the GAO noted that the number of plans available to choose from varied significantly between states. For example, a 19-year old consumer in California had 617 coverage options while that same consumer in New York had 120 plans available. But in Texas, a young male adult could choose from 5,422 different plans.

To learn more:
- here's the GAO report

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