Consumers shopping in the new health insurance marketplaces will face a bewildering array of competing plans in some counties and sparse options in other places, with people in some areas of the country having to pay much more for the identical level of coverage than consumers elsewhere.
A Kaiser Health News analysis of the 1,923 plans being sold on federally run online marketplacesfound wide variations of price and availability. For instance, Cigna is offering 50-year-olds one of its midlevel plans for $614 if they live in Flagstaff, Ariz. That same plan, contracting with different hospitals and doctors, will cost $428 in Phoenix and just $395 in Nashville.
These are plans being sold in the 34 states where the Department of Health and Human Services is running the marketplaces or working in partnership with the states. Most plans fall into two types: 806 are health maintenance organizations (HMO) plans, in which patients have to stay within the network of doctors and hospitals that have contracts with the insurer, while 714 plans are preferred-provider organizations, where the insurer has discounted rates with some doctors and hospitals and agrees to pay some portion of the cost if the patient goes to a provider that is out of that network. . .