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Let’s Move to the Atlantic Seaboard or North Dakota: State Specific Premium and Deductible Data

by Clive Riddle, December 3, 2010

The Commonwealth Fund has just released a report with state specific premium and deductible trends for the past seven years: State Trends in Premiums and Deductibles, 2003–2009: How Building on the Affordable Care Act Will Help Stem the Tide of Rising Costs and Eroding Benefits.

The talking points the Commonwealth Fund promotes in conjunction with the report: (Premiums increase 41%! Deductibles increase 80%) are a little disingenuous as those percentages cover a seven year period (which they dutifully note) but the average ready typically relates such percentages into annual terms, and headlining the equivalent average annual increase could have been more meaningful.

The Commonwealth Fund’s theme from their report is, as Commonwealth Fund Senior Vice President Cathy Schoen tells us, “private insurance costs have been increasing faster than working family incomes. For more than a decade, families with job-based insurance have been sacrificing wages to hold on to health insurance. The good news is that the Affordable Care Act reforms provide a foundation to improve coverage and slow health care cost growth in the future."

Regardless of what conclusions you draw from the 32 page report, it contains great state specific data on average health plan single and family premiums and deductibles, further broken down by employer size. They also examine premium as a percent of median household income. The report goes on to project future increases, with and without the impact of the Affordable Care Act, thus indicating projected savings from the Act.

The report notes “by 2009, the average employer-sponsored family premium across all states was $13,027, ranging from $14,000 to $14,700 in the six highest states….to $11,000 to $12,000 in the 11 states with the lowest average private-employer family premium costs…. Average family premiums in the highest-premium-cost states were about 23 percent above those of the lowest-cost states….. By 2009, there were 15 states in which the average annual premium for family coverage equaled 20 percent or more of median household income for the under-65 population, compared with just three states in 2003 ….  In 28 states, family premiums relative to incomes averaged 18 percent or more for middle-income, under-65 households.”

The report found that U.S. average deductibles by firm size were:

Small Firm Single Deductible: $    703 in 2003 / $ 1,283 in 2009
Large Firm Single Deductible: $    452 in 2003 / $    822 in 2009
Small Firm Family Deducible: $ 1,575 in 2003 / $ 2,662 in 2009
Large Firm Family Deductible: $   969 in 2003 / $ 1,610 in 2009

Here’s some interesting state-specific data from the report. From an affordability standpoint (premiums as a percent of income) the Atlantic seaboard or North Dakota may be your best bet.

Five Highest Family Premium States

(2009 Data: US Annual Average $13,027)
Massachusetts: $14,723
Wisconsin: $14,656
Vermont: $14,558
Wyoming: $14,319
District of Columbia: $14,222

Five Lowest Family Premium States

(2009 Data: US Annual Average $13,027)
Arkansas: $10,969
Montana: $11,365
Oklahoma: $11,417
North Dakota: $11,590
South Dakota: $11,596

Five Highest States: Avg Premiums as % of Median Household Incomes

(2009 Data: US Annual Average 18.7%)
Mississippi: 24.6%
Texas: 21.9%
Louisiana: 21.6%
New Mexico: 21.5%
North Carolina: 21.2%

Five Lowest States: Avg Premiums as % of Median Household Incomes

(2009 Data: US Annual Average 18.7%)
Connecticut: 14.6%
New Jersey: 14.7%
Maryland: 15.0%
Virginia: 15.0%
North Dakota: 15.5%

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