But the overhaul will narrow that ratio to 3-to-1. That alone could cause the premium for a 24-year-old who pays $1,200 annually to jump to $1,800, according to AHIP. Meanwhile, the 60-year-old who currently pays $6,000 will see a 10 percent drop in price.
Gender also can be a factor in whether premiums go up or down. The law will prohibit insurers from setting different rates based on gender – something they currently do because women generally use more health care.
That means premiums for some men could rise, while they fall for women.
Prices also may change depending on a person’s current coverage. Many policies on the individual market (coverage not sold through employers) exclude maternity coverage, but that will be considered an essential health benefit under the overhaul. That could mean higher prices for some.
Vikki Swanson, 49, of Newport Beach, Calif., resents that the added benefit may lead to higher costs for her. “I had a hysterectomy, I have no need for maternity coverage, but I have to now pay for it,” she said.
As a self-employed accountant and financial analyst, Swanson has paid for her insurance coverage on the individual market for about 13 years. She watched her monthly premium climb from around $136 in 2001 to more than $600 before she could find cheaper coverage. She’s frustrated that the overhaul may add to her bill.
“I have to pay not only my own premium but I have to subsidize everybody else,” she said.
CUSHIONING THE BLOW
While insurers forecast instant premiums hikes starting next January, the overhaul also is expected to tame health care costs for many.