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Health Insurance Rates

Rates Difficult to Determine

Health insurance premiums – the amount of money individuals pay monthly to obtain health insurance – vary so widely that it is hard to precisely estimate an average insurance rate. The high degree of variability in rates is due to the many factors, described below, that go into determining insurance rates. However, almost all data point to one thing: health insurance premiums are going up, and quickly.

Cost Variables

America’s Exceptional – Healthcare in America costs more, generally, than anywhere else in the world. Because of this, rates are generally higher than in other comparable countries, where health insurance is provided universally and publicly. Furthermore, because the US provides health insurance through private, non-profit, and governmental insurance agencies, rates can vary from entity to entity, and state to state (see Health Insurance for more basic US health information).

Type of Insurance – Because the majority of Americans receive health insurance coverage through their employers, a portion of their health insurance costs are paid for by their employer. This reduces the amount that Americans must pay for their insurance individually, or for their family, as spouses and children are generally covered through an employee’s health plan.

Besides employer-based healthcare, the other way people receive health insurance is through government-subsidized programs, like Medicare and Medicaid, or through an individual health insurance policy provided by a private company or a non-profit organization (see Health Insurance Plans).

Risk factors – Besides the type of insurance you pursue, other factors can raise or lower your insurance premiums. Factors such as obesity, family history of disease, smoking and other lifestyle choices can affect the size of your insurance premium.

Averages – Despite the near impossibility of narrowing down average, individual rates, insurance rates taken from the industry as a whole are provided annually. According to these figures, as of 2009, individual health insurance plans featured annual premiums, on average, of about $4,824 (~$400/month, up from $2,471 annually (~$200/month) in 2000); Family health insurance plans, meanwhile cost around $13,375 annually (~$1,110/month, up from $6,438 annually (~$530/month) in 2000).

Unfortunately, there is currently no way to determine a health insurance premium specific to you without going through a provider or otherwise commercial Web site. However, the federal government has plans of offering a Web site that will allow consumers to compare local providers and their rates. This service, on the Web site healthcare.gov, should start in October of 2010.