Vt. has highest health insurance premiums

By Erin Mansfield

For Vermont Digger

Middle-aged Vermonters pay higher prices than 13 other states for health insurance through the state’s online marketplace and the prices will continue to go up if state regulators approve new rate hikes proposed by insurers.

A new analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation says that, before receiving subsidies, Vermonters age 40 paid $465 per month for the lowest-cost silver health insurance plan through Vermont Health Connect in 2016.

The study uses the prices in major cities to estimate how much people in each state pay. Burlington is the major city used for Vermont, but all residents pay the same prices. The study does not include state subsidies for premiums.

By comparison, four cities in New York had an average monthly price of $366 for the lowest-cost silver plan in 2016; two cities in Connecticut paid $316; Portland, Oregon paid $240; and Washington, D.C. paid $228.

The average rate calculated by Kaiser was $277 per month for a 40-year-old, or about 60 percent of what Vermonters pay.

“Vermont is a little unusual among the states,” said Cynthia Cox, associate director of health reform for the Kaiser Family Foundation. “New York is the other state where everyone is charged the same premium regardless of how old they are and what that means is people who are younger will pay more than they otherwise would. “

“If I made the same chart for, say, a 64-year-old, then Vermont would look really cheap,” Cox said. “But if there were no subsidies in this market, then I think you would see fewer young people in Vermont signing up for coverage, which would cause premiums to increase more.”

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