Family Insurance Premiums Decline 8% in the Last Six Months

September 29, 2003 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Health insurance premiums paid by families have decreased 8.1%, to $91 per family member per month within the last six months.

The decrease, though, did not extend to individual premium costs, whichare unchanged in the same period of time, averaging $148 per month.On an annual basis, this premium amount equates to $1,785 per-person-per-year, according toeHealthInsurance’s study on the cost and comprehensiveness of plans purchased by individuals and families using its online service.

On an individual premium for single policies basis, the highest average monthly premiums were found in the oldest group, 45 to 64, at $210 per member per month or $2,518. This was followed by:

  • $156 – 35 to 44; $1,870 per year
  • $131 – 25 to 34; $1,567 per year
  • $115 – 18 to 24; $1,380 per year
  • $97 – under 18; $1,164 per year.

For family policies with an average of three family members per policy in this sample, the average monthly premium purchased is approximately $278 per month or $3,331 per year for family plans.

Coverage Lacking

Coverage gaps still exist. The study found that over 60% of the uninsured population is concentrated in the under-35 age bracket, with that group as a whole paying an average annual premium of less than $1,477, or approximately $123 per member per month. The highest concentration of uninsured per age group was found in the 25 to 34 strata, with 22% of this group uncovered. Other uninsured percentages showed a lack of coverage of 21% for 45 to 64 year olds, followed by:

  • 20% – under 18
  • 19% – 18 to 24
  • 17% – 35 to 44
  • 1% – 65 and up (age 65 and older are covered under Medicare).

“The number of uninsured Americans is on the rise, and yet this report is good news for many of them who don’t know that they can save money by comparing health insurance options online,” said Gary Lauer, CEO of eHealthInsurance. “Forty percent of those who purchased health insurance through our site were previously uninsured and were surprised to find that there are affordable plans available to them.”

Comprehensive Exam

Most plans purchased could be classified as comprehensive coverage (those policies with coverage that includes Inpatient, Outpatient, Lab and Test benefits), 91% of policies purchased by individuals and 85% of policies purchased by families. An average of 90% of individuals and families purchased mainstream health insurance plan types that are relatively unencumbered with utilization restrictions, such as Health Maintenance Organization (HMO) access requirements.

Most popular among the coverage options for both individuals (77%) and families (81%) was the preferred provider organization (PPO) option. This was followed by 12% of individuals, 8% of families electing an HMO and 11% of both groups choosing and indemnity/other plan.

Not surprisingly, there is a clear consumer purchasing preference for lower deductibles, as 62% of all plans purchased by individuals and 50% purchased by families included in the sample have a deductible of $1,000 or less. Additionally, nearly three-quarters of policies have office visit co-payments of $20 or less.

To view the full report on the Cost and Comprehensiveness of Individual and Family Health Insurance go to: www.ehealthinsurance.com/ehealthinsurance/expertcenter/ExpertCenter.html .

«