KHN: The 10 most expensive places to buy Obamacare plans

Buying coverage in Aspen or Vail? Prepare to pay up

Kaiser Health News has identified the 10 regions with the highest premiums for individuals purchasing coverage through the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges.

The list of the nation's high-cost regions is based on monthly premiums paid by a 40-year-old individual for the lowest price "silver" plan in the insurance marketplaces. (Vermont was an exception; the state does not allow insurers to charge seniors more than their younger counterparts.)

KHN on marketplace plans: Wide variation in costs, even within counties

KHN found that the country's most expensive insurance marketplaces, from highest to lowest, were:

  • Colorado Mountain Resort Region: Monthly premiums in Eagle, Garfield, and Pitkin counties' (home of Aspen and Vail ski resorts) are $483, while Summit County premiums are $462.
  • Southwest Georgia: Premiums are $461 for residents of Baker, Calhoun, Clay, Crisp, Dougherty, Lee, Mitchell, Randolph, Schley, Sumter, Terrell, and Worth counties.
  • Rural Nevada: Individuals living in Esmeralda, Eureka, Humboldt, Lander, Lincoln, Elko, Mineral, Pershing, White Pine, and Churchill counties pay $456 per month.
  • Far western Wisconsin: Premiums in Pierce, Polk, and St. Croix are $445.
  • Southern Georgia: Premiums are $423 in Ben Hill, Berrien, Brooks, Clinch, Colquitt, Cook, Decatur, Early, Echols, Grady, Irwin, Lanier, Lowndes, Miller, Seminole, Thomas, Tift, and Turner counties.
  • Most of Wyoming: Residents of all counties, except Natrona and Laramie, pay $405 per month.
  • Southeast Mississippi: Premiums in George, Harrison, Jackson, and Stone counties are $399, while in Hancock County, the lowest price plan is $447.
  • Vermont: Individuals across the small state pay $395 for mid-level plans.
  • Fairfield, Connecticut: Residents of the Southwestern-most county, which includes many affluent New York City commuter towns, pay premiums of $383.
  • Alaska: Residents' monthly premiums are $381

Popular this week: About one in five exchange customers has not paid up

Although the causes of costly premiums vary by region, a common contributor is a limited number of hospitals and specialists that command greater bargaining power from insurers, according to KHN's Jordan Rau. Other factors include the poor health of the locals and the number of people without employer-sponsored insurance (Rau, KHN, 2/3).

Learn about the exchanges

Being ready for health insurance exchanges will be the difference between 24 million challenges and 24 million opportunities.

We cover all the basics of the exchanges in this three-minute video, and dive into the details in this popular white paper. For a detailed look at how to prepare for the insurance exchanges, check out the library of resources on the ACA marketplaces.

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