The federal health insurance exchange opened for business Tuesday, and state regulators have revealed the rates that Utahns have to choose from. In Salt Lake and Davis Counties, there is one insurer who has lower price plans than the rest. But insurance experts say consumers should look at more than just monthly premiums when making their choice.
There are 96 plans offered in the state of Utah. Prices vary by county, and in most places, the rates are in tight competition. But in Salt Lake County, the for-profit insurer Humana has the lowest priced plan in every category – from basic bronze to platinum. Humana’s lowest-priced silver level plan for a 27-year-old individual in Salt Lake County is about $162 a month. The next lowest silver plan is Select Health priced at $197, a $35 difference. But State Assistant Insurance Commissioner Tanji Northrup says premiums aren’t the only consideration. On the Humana plan, for instance, patients would have to pay 50% of prescription drug costs. While patients on the Select Health plan would have to pay 25% of those costs.
“It’s important for them to look at the cost-sharing, not just for the medical part, but also for the prescription drugs, and how does that compare to a similar plan,” Northrup says. “They’ll also want to look at the provider network, look and see what hospitals are covered. Is it a hospital near their house or that they tend to receive services at? It’s much more than just the price of a plan.”
Insurance companies are required by law to maintain the same rates for a full year, but they can change after that period.