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.