If You Live In Southwest Georgia, the Affordable Care Act Isn’t Very Affordable

A recent report by Kaiser Health News lists two regions in south Georgia among the top ten areas with the least affordable health care plans available through the health care exchanges. According to the report, a 40 year old living in the region comprising Baker, Calhoun, Clay, Crisp, Dougherty, Lee, Mitchell, Randolph, Schley, Sumter, Terrell and Worth counties near Albany would pay $461 a month for the lowest level Silver plan. That’s the second highest-cost region in the country, after the area near Colorado’s ski resort town of Aspen.

Near Valdosta, a 40 year old living in Ben Hill, Berrien, Brooks, Clinch, Colquitt, Cook, Decatur, Early, Echols, Grady, Irwin, Lanier, Lowndes, Miller, Seminole, Thomas, Tift or Turner county would pay $423 per month for that same silver plan. That’s the fourth highest rate in the country.

A second Kaiser Health News story focuses on the challenges to affordable health care in southwest Georgia.

All the dynamics that drive up health costs have coalesced here in Southwest Georgia, pushing up premiums. Expensive chronic conditions such as obesity and cancer are common among the quarter million people in this region. One hospital system dominates the area, leaving little competition. Only one insurer is offering policies in the online marketplace, and many physicians are not participating, limiting consumer choice.

Until these elements are brought under control, it will be challenging for the Affordable Care Act to fully live up to its name.

The story notes that high deductibles make the price of health insurance even more costly than the monthly insurance premium.

Other high cost health insurance regions include the rural areas of Nevada and Wyoming, southeast Mississippi, Vermont and Fairfield, Connecticut. The tenth highest cost region is Alaska. There, the premium is $381 per month, 21% lower than in the Albany area.

According to legalconsumer.com, the lowest priced Silver plan in metro Atlanta costs $229 per month, less than half the price of the silver plan in the Albany region.

12 comments

  1. DavidTC says:

    Considering all the ‘perfect storm’ things, the question is there affordable health insurance *outside* of the exchange?

    • griftdrift says:

      Not really. No current business model supports that kind of risk pool.

      Some possibilities. Could loosen CON requirements. Maybe ease regulations on PAs. Hmmm. If only there were a party that was for less regulation that was willing to negotiate fixes.

      • DavidTC says:

        This sorta reminds me of the inane worries that socialized medicine (And thus ACA, and yes that’s stupid) was going to cause ‘long wait for healthcare’.

        Which it technically could…but only if we were actually at the point where we literally did not have enough health care to care for every person in this country. Sadly, in some places, is actually true. In some places in this country, we barely had enough health care to *start* with, and the ACA is going to add even more people to that.

        But it’s not the ACA that’s the problem there. The problem is that we’ve let a broken health care system sit broken so long it no longer even vaguely matches actual the demand in this country.

        • griftdrift says:

          Some truth to that. But the problem is in pockets like Southwest Georgia, there is not a business model ( at least not one I’ve seen ) that covers that kind of demand ( high demand / low or negative margin )

          You can scream “free market” until you’re blue in the face but if the market is distorted to the point that no model can be applied, the invisible hand has no action.

          Another idea. low interest government backed loans for physician assistants to open their own clinics. There’s probably a business model for a fee per service basis i.e. ala carte, for basic health services in places like Newton and Attapulgus and Bleckley.

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