Georgia’s consumers have an additional four insurers to choose from on the federal Health Insurance Marketplace established by the Affordable Care Act, and this increased competition has led to lower premiums throughout much of the state. A Department of Health and Human Services study released yesterday shows that the average monthly premium (pre-tax credits) for the second-cheapest Silver insurance plan for a 27-year-old in Georgia has dropped 6% – from $235 to $220.
Mike wrote about the market power of Blue Cross Blue Shield yesterday, and this was also evident in 2014’s individual market. Southwest Georgia made national news this February for being the 2nd most expensive region in the nation for health insurance, thanks in part to BCBS’s monopoly power in the region as the sole provider on the Marketplace. The second-cheapest Silver plan in Doughtery County has changed from a $395 BCBS plan in 2014 to a $306 UnitedHealthcare plan in 2015 – a 23% plummet in monthly premiums. This increased competition isn’t limited to Southwest Georgia – the average number of plans on the Marketplace for each Georgia county has nearly doubled from 22 to 41 in the past year.
To be sure, prices haven’t fallen in every county in Georgia – the second-lowest Silver plan in Fulton County, which had plenty of competition in 2014, ticked up slightly from $205 to $209. Residents in Atlanta still face lower costs and have more choices than the rest of the state, with the number of plans rising from 62 to 94 in 2015. All-in-all, though, competition from new insurers entering Georgia’s market means that Georgians shopping for insurance on the individual market through HealthCare.gov will face lower costs and increased choice this year.