Now that the Affordable Care Act makes healthcare access available to citizens of the United States, we see significant variances in costs throughout the country. As consumers visit healthcare.gov to shop around for insurance plans, it may be a little perplexing to see the rates differ from state to state. The differentiation in plan costs may further lead citizens to be reluctant to support Obamacare. However, it is important to keep in mind there are several factors that influence the structure and costs of premiums in each state and region.
From a public health perspective, we know that demographic variables related to age, gender, social, cultural, financial and environmental influences play a big role in health disparities. States consist of varying communities. Each community faces unique health challenges. Cost of living, population, availability of resources and access to health care services are important factors in the health outcomes within each community and region. Public health officials also know that for every dollar that spent on health prevention, there is a potential cost savings of eight dollars in return. While it may appear that premiums may be costly to both individuals and the government, the costs that may incur from non-preventative measures will continue to exhaust the healthcare system.
According to a September 2013 report released by the Department of Health and Human Services, Americans under the age of 65 years of age will pay the most for premiums in Wyoming, and the least in Minnesota. The report analyzed insurance rates in 47 states and Washington, D.C. Some of the variables in the report include rates by states that are operating their own exchanges and premium rates in the 36 states where the federal government is running the exchanges in the marketplace. National average for the bronze plan starts at $249 and for the silver tier plan starts at $310. Gold and platinum-tiered plans are offered, but the quality of these plans makes them more attractive than the cost.
Government subsidies are based on the silver- tiered plan, and rates are running approximately 16% less than those earlier projected by the Congressional Budget Office. Those projections claimed a $392 per month rate for individuals. In seven states, the rates are higher than that estimate, with the highest being $400 in Alaska, Connecticut, Indiana, Maine, Mississippi, Vermont, and Wyoming. Oklahoma, Kansas and Tennessee are amongst some of the states were costs are under $200 per month for the bronze plan. These rates are primarily on individual rates, but families will experience the most cost savings.
So, what does all this mean for Americans? Does this mean that the Affordable Care Act is not going to help America? Not at all, in fact, the new law helps to spread regulations out and help foster the states’ accountability for steering initiatives to promote health prevention amongst the younger and healthy populations. What we are seeing today in America are the devastating effects of the multitude of generations that did not have the knowledge of disease prevention and health promotion that we know now. Time is of the essence, and if we fail to take action and invest in our future by accessing healthcare, our country may never experience prosperity and tap into the possibility to have a great quality of life. How can we assure health and wellness of our future generations when we fail to invest in today? Health is never promised, and pursuing efforts toward wellness will not return void.