The 10 most expensive markets in the United States to buy a so-called "silver" health insurance plan under the Affordable Care Act include some widely-disparate communities, but the news isn't good for residents of Colorado ski counties.
In fact, the most expensive region in the nation includes counties surrounding Aspen and Vail, according to a new survey by Kaiser Health News. The ranking is based on the cheapest of the mid-level silver plans, which the majority of those seeking new insurance are buying.
Pitkin, Eagle and Garfield counties have the top monthly premiums at $483, while Summit County is right behind at $462. Oddly enough, the next highest premiums are to be found in a 12-county region in rural southwest Georgia, where million dollar condos and downhill skiers are decidedly less numerous. But the monthly bill still tallies $461.
The sticker shock prices in ski country are not explained by a sicker population, the story states. People there are generally healthy, but medical prices and the use of medical services are both high.
In Pitkin County, for example, costs from doctors and other medical professionals were $1,932 per insured person, 2.2 times higher than the state average, according to data cited from Colorado All-Payer Claims Database. However, the number of claims filed was 17 percent fewer.
It's a different story in the southwest Georgia region, Kaiser Health News reports, where the one hospital system that dominates the area beat back an effort by federal anti-trust regulators to loosen its grip on the market.
"High individual insurance rates also reflect the extra costs that come when locals tend to be in poor health and where large numbers of people lack employer-sponsored insurance, leaving providers with more charity cases and lower-reimbursed Medicare patients," the story by KHN staff writer Jordan Rau reported.
The most costly regions were ranked by the monthly premiums for a 40-year-old person. The list is based on rates listed on the federal and state insurance marketplaces and data compiled by Kaiser Family Foundation researchers.