Biggest winners: NY, CO, OH, MA; Biggest losers: NV, NM, AR, NC
Eight states will enjoy average premium reductions under Obamacare: New York (-40%), Colorado (-22%), Ohio (-21%), Massachusetts (-20%), New Jersey (-19%), New Hampshire (-18%), Rhode Island (-10%), and Indiana (-3%). Most, but not all, of these states had heavily-regulated individual insurance markets prior to Obamacare, and will therefore benefit from Obamacare’s subsidies, and especially its requirement that everyone purchase health insurance or pay a fine.
The eight states that will face the biggest increases in underlying premiums are largely southern and western states: Nevada (+179%), New Mexico (+142%), Arkansas (+138%), North Carolina (+136%), Vermont (+117%), Georgia (+92%), South Dakota (+77%), and Nebraska (+74%).
If you’re interested in more details about our methodology, you can find them here. As with our past work, we calculated an average of the five least-expensive plans in every county in a state pre-Obamacare, adjusted to take into account those with pre-existing conditions and other health problems. We then did the same calculation with the five least-expensive plans in every county in the Obamacare exchanges. We then used these county-based numbers to come up with a population-weighted state average pre- and post-Obamacare.
Exchange plans narrow your choice of doctor, despite higher costs
The key thing to understand about our before-and-after comparison is that it is an average. If you’re healthy today, you will face steeper rate increases than these figures indicate. If you have a serious medical condition, however, and haven’t been able to find affordable health coverage as a result, you will do much better under Obamacare than the average person. Men will face steeper increases than women in most states, because women consume more health care than men do, and Obamacare forbids insurers to charge different prices on the basis of gender.
In addition, our comparison ignores other differences between pre-Obamacare and post-Obamacare plans. For example, in some cases, people looking for comparably-priced coverage on the exchanges will need to accept higher deductibles and other cost-sharing arrangements.
Importantly, post-Obamacare exchange plans will typically have narrow networks of physicians and hospitals, especially excluding those tied to prestigious medical schools. In today’s Wall Street Journal, Edie Sundby, who struggles with gallbladder cancer, argues that her pre-Obamacare access to leading academic cancer centers like Stanford has “kept me alive,” and notes that the plans available to her on the exchange don’t allow her to keep her doctor.