It isn’t just weather extremes that separate Alaska and Arizona.
According to a recent analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation, the two states also represent extremes in health insurance pricing. While Alaska is the most expensive health insurance market for people who do not get coverage through their employers, Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona—along with Albuquerque, New Mexico—boast the least expensive markets for non-employees.
To create the report, researchers considered the monthly premium for the least expensive “silver” level plan—the most popular choice among Americans. The national median premium for a 40-year-old is $269, but prices vary widely, with premiums in the most expensive markets as much as triple the cost of those in the least expensive areas.
Rural areas appear to be home to 2015’s priciest healthcare plans. Residents in the following areas and counties will be paying the most for insurance this year if not covered under an employer-provided plan.
$488 Alaska (entire state)
$459 Ithaca, NY (Tompkins)
$456 Bay St. Louis, Mississippi (Hancock)
$446 Plattsburgh, NY (Clinton)
$440 Rural Wyoming (Albany, Big Horn, Campbell, Carbon, Converse, Crook, Fremont, Goshen, Hot Springs, Johnson, Lincoln, Niobrara, Park, Platte, Sheridan, Sublette, Sweetwater, Teton, Uinta, Washakie, and Weston)
$428 Vermont (entire state)
$418 Rural Nevada (Churchill, Elko, Eureka, Humboldt, Lander, Mineral, Pershing, and White Pine)
$412 Casper, Wyoming (Natrona)
$410 Inland California (Imperial, Inyo, and Mono)
$401 Cheyenne, Wyoming (Laramie)
Ceci Connolly, director of PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute noted that the regions often suffer from increased costs in connecting providers with patients given wide spaces and scant population. Fewer providers in these areas also enjoy the ability to dictate higher prices without repercussion, she told NPR.
On the other end of the spectrum, Americans in the southwestern US, Tennessee and Minnesota are scoring the best deals.
$166 Phoenix, Ariz. (Maricopa)
$167 Albuquerque, N.M. (Bernalillo, Sandoval, Torrance and Valencia count)
$167 Louisville, Ky. (Bullitt, Jefferson, Oldham and Shelby)
$170 Tucson, Ariz. (Pima and Santa Cruz)
$170 Pittsburgh, Pa. (Allegheny and Erie)
$179 Western Pennsylvania (Beaver, Butler, Washington, Westmoreland, Armstrong, Crawford, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, McKean, Mercer, and Warren)
$181 Knoxville and Eastern Tennessee (Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Claiborne, Cocke, Grainger, Hamblen, Jefferson, Knox, Loudon, Monroe, Morgan, Roane, Scott, Sevier, and Union)
$181 Minneapolis-St. Paul (Anoka, Benton, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, Sherburne, Stearns, Washington, and Wright)
$184 Memphis and suburbs (Fayette, Haywood, Lauderdale, Shelby, and Tipton)
$189 North of Minneapolis (Chisago and Isanti)
What do these markets have in common? Analysts say it’s large populations and robust, competitive markets. Rates continue to increase but we have found values in the market. Call us to discuss your health insurance coverage at 800-362-2809.