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EHealth: Individual Health Insurance Isn't That Expensive

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Individual and family health insurance is much cheaper and easier to get in states that permit insurers to use medical underwriting.

EHealth Inc., Mountain View, Calif., the company that runs the health insurance sales site, has published data on national prices, and variations in state prices, in a new report based on its own customers’ health insurance purchases.

EHealth analysts looked at data from 233,000 individual plans purchased through its site.

The average non-group health insurance premium for an individual in the United States was $161 per month in February, up just 1.1% from the February 2008 average.

The average deductible increased 12%, to $2,326.

The analysts also looked at 84,000 family plans purchased through the site.

The average monthly premium for those increased 4%, to $383, while the average deductible increased 13%, to $3,128.

The cost was relatively low partly because most of the states let insurers reject the applications of applicants who may have health problems.

In New York, for example, a state that requires health insurers to sell coverage on a guaranteed issue, community-rated basis, the average monthly premium is $339, which compare with an average of $115 to $180 in most other states.

In Vermont, a state that lets insurers charge rates for the least attractive applicants that are only 50% higher than the rates for the most attractive applicants, eHealth has no individual products available.