A survey by America’s Health Plans finds 89% of Americans who applied for individual health care insurance were offered coverage.
AHIP, Washington, reports that 40% of these coverage offers were at standard rates, and 49% were offered at lower preferred rates. Even among those age 60 to 64, 71% were offered coverage, and 74% of these were at standard or preferred rates.
The study, “Individual Health Insurance 2006-2007,” found annual premiums averaged $2,613 for single coverage and $5,799 for family plans in 2006-2007. Premiums varied by state, reflecting such factors as premium rating and underwriting rules, differences in health care costs, demographics and consumer benefit preferences.
Premiums were significantly higher in states with restrictions on premium variation and underwriting, often known as “guaranteed issue” and “community rating,” AHIP found, however, about 95% of the policies were sold in states where the average annual premium was under $3,400 for single coverage or $7,200 for family coverage.
Consumers in the individual market were offered a wide range of benefits, including mental or behavioral health, prescription drugs, preventive care and maternity benefits. Some level of behavioral health coverage was included in 90% of policies purchased. Coverage for complementary and alternative therapy was also popular, while vision and dental coverage were chosen much less frequently.
The most commonly purchased coverage option was preferred provider organization/point-of-service plans, representing 78% of single policies and 66% of family policies in force.
AHIP found 10% of single policies and 23% of family policies chosen provided coverage in combination with health savings accounts. AHIP found, too, that the average out-of-pocket maximum paid by consumers with an HSA policy often is not much higher than the average plan deductible, meaning many HSA plans consider the deductible to be the primary form of cost-sharing.
Most policies chosen had annual out-of-pocket limits under $5,000, and the average lifetime maximum benefit (among plans with a maximum) was nearly $4 million.