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STUDY: Some South Dakota ‘Off Exchange’ Health Plans May Be Cheaper

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(NPN) – Though information is still sketchy, at least one South Dakota non-federal health insurance plan may be less expensive than its on-exchange counterpart, says a new study.

HealthPocket looked at available data on “off exchange” and federal exchange plans and found that in South Dakota, the off-exchange Bronze Plans faired better with Wellmark BlueCross and Blue Shield at $171.60 for its least expensive entry for a 27-year-old nonsmoker compared to $196 for the lowest priced Bronze on the state exchange.
Consumers in 36 states that have access to the federal exchanges have given “off exchanges” a look as problems persist in accessing the federal health care website.
Off-exchange plans are health plans that are purchased outside a state’s health insurance marketplace (i.e., exchange).
Since these health plans are not sold on an exchange, lower-income enrollees cannot receive premium subsidies for them. For some well-known insurance companies such as Aetna and United Healthcare, their individual and family health plans are only available outside the exchanges in several states.
When investigating off-exchange premiums, HealthPocket said it found many insurance company websites were not yet displaying their 2014 rates. For example, Humana has not released on its website the off-exchange Bronze Plan rates for Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The rates for Aetna are currently limited to 2013 plans in many states supported by the Aetna website. United Healthcare also was not displaying 2014 off-exchange rates online for many states in which they sell insurance.
However, HealthPocket said it did uncover some 2014 off-exchange rates besides the South Dakota comparison. In AtlantaHealthPocket found that the lowest priced Bronze Plans for a 27-year-old nonsmoker were more expensive at Coventry ($180.26) and Aetna ($196) than for the lowest priced Bronze Plan available on Georgia’s exchange ($166). However, the given the paucity of exchange rates, HealthPocket was unable to release a comprehensive analysis of on-exchange versus off-exchange premiums.
“For those insurance companies only offering off-exchange health insurance plans within a state, there is a need to make a compelling case to the public that their premiums are worth investigating,” said Kev Coleman, head of research and data at HealthPocket.
“If off-exchange rates cannot be easily reviewed on an insurance company’s
website consumers may assume that the rates aren’t competitive.”

HealthPocket.com is a free website that compares and
ranks all health insurance plans available to an individual, family or small
business.


 

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