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Oklahoma not among top 10 places where health insurance costs the least (or most)

by Jaclyn Cosgrove Published: February 13, 2014
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The cheapest place to buy health insurance through a marketplace might be Minneapolis-St. Paul.

The Kaiser Family Foundation analyzed how much it would cost a 40-year-old person to buy a silver plan through federal and state-run marketplaces.

Through that analysis, Kaiser Health News found the 10 Least Expensive Health Insurance Markets In The U.S. and the 10 Most Expensive Insurance Markets In The U.S.

No county or region in Oklahoma made either list.

Here are the least expensive areas:

$154: Minneapolis-St. Paul. Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Ramsey, Scott, Sherburne and Washington counties.

$164: Pittsburgh and Northwestern Pennsylvania. Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Crawford, Erie, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lawrence, McKean, Mercer, Warren, Washington and Westmoreland counties.

$166: Middle Minnesota. Benton, Stearns and Wright counties.

$167: Tucson, Ariz. Pima County.

$171: Northwestern Minnesota. Clearwater, Kittson, Mahnomen, Marshall, Norman, Pennington, Polk and Red Lake counties.

$173: Salt Lake City. Davis and Salt Lake counties.

$176: Hawaii.

$180: Knoxville, Tenn. Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Claiborne, Cocke, Grainger, Hamblen, Jefferson, Knox, Loudon, Monroe, Morgan, Roane, Scott, Sevier & Union.

$180: Western and North Central Minnesota. Aitkin, Becker, Beltrami, Big Stone, Cass, Chippewa, Clay, Crow Wing, Douglas, Grant, Hubbard, Isanti, Kanabec, Kandiyohi, Lac qui Parle, Lyon, McLeod, Meeker, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Otter Tail, Pine, Pope, Renville, Roseau, Sibley, Stevens, Swift, Todd, Traverse, Wadena Wilkin and Yellow Medicine counties. In Chisago County, the lowest premium is $162.

$181: Chattanooga, Tenn. Bledsoe, Bradley, Franklin, Grundy, Hamilton, Marion, McMinn, Meigs, Polk, Rhea and Sequatchie counties.

Here are the 10 most expensive regions:

$483: Colorado Mountain Resort Region. Eagle, Garfield and Pitkin counties, home of Aspen and Vail ski resorts. Summit County premiums are $462.

$461: Southwest Georgia. Baker, Calhoun, Clay, Crisp, Dougherty, Lee, Mitchell, Randolph, Schley, Sumter, Terrell and Worth counties.

$456: Rural Nevada Esmeralda, Eureka, Humboldt, Lander, Lincoln, Elko, Mineral, Pershing, White Pine and Churchill counties.

$445: Far western Wisconsin. Pierce, Polk and St. Croix counties, across the border from St. Paul, Minn.

$423: Southern Georgia. A swath of counties adjacent to the even more expensive region. Ben Hill, Berrien, Brooks, Clinch, Colquitt, Cook, Decatur, Early, Echols, Grady, Irwin, Lanier, Lowndes, Miller, Seminole, Thomas, Tift and Turner counties.

$405: Most of Wyoming. All counties except Natrona and Laramie.

$399: Southeast Mississippi. George, Harrison, Jackson & Stone counties. In Hancock County, the lowest price plan is $447.

$395: Vermont.*

$383: Fairfield, Conn. The southwestern-most county, which includes many affluent commuter towns for New York City.

$381: Alaska.

In Oklahoma County, a 40-year-old resident would be able to choose from 18 silver plans, ranging from $194 to $361, according to HealthCare.gov. However, not all of those plans are available across all counties in Oklahoma.

For example, HealthCare.gov shows that the least expensive silver plan available in Tulsa County is through Coventry Health Care of Kansas and is $214 per month. Meanwhile, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Oklahoma offers residents in Oklahoma County two silver plans that are less expensive than Coventry’s plan, one silver plan for $194 per month and another for $202 per month.

In rural counties, HealthCare.gov shows fewer plans available in some rural areas. For example, in Cimarron County, one of the least populated counties in the state, only five silver plans would be available to a 40-year-old resident. And those plans would range from $246 to $320.

According to the Kaiser Health News report:

The causes of the stratospheric premiums vary from region to region, although a recurring theme is that in some areas the limited number of hospitals and specialists allows them to demand high prices from insurers. In Southwestern Georgia, one hospital system dominates the area and beat back an effort by federal anti-trust regulators to loosen its grip on the market. High individual insurance rates also reflect the extra costs that come when locals tend to be in poor health and where large numbers of people lack employer-sponsored insurance, leaving providers with more charity cases and lower-reimbursed Medicare patients.

A sicker population does not explain the most expensive region in the country: four mountain counties around Aspen and Vail. People here are generally healthy, but medical prices and the use of medical services are both high.

by Jaclyn Cosgrove
Medical and Health Reporter
Jaclyn Cosgrove writes about health, public policy and medicine in Oklahoma, among other topics. She is an Oklahoma State University graduate. Jaclyn grew up in the southeast region of the state and enjoys writing about rural Oklahoma. She is...
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