10 Worst Places to Live for Obamacare
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The Fiscal Times
February 20, 2014

Some Americans are experiencing serious sticker shock from Obamacare premiums, while others are getting quite a bargain on their new policies.

It all just depends on where you live.

Residents of ski resort towns in Colorado are likely to pay the highest in premiums on the insurance exchanges, while those living in most of Minnesota and northwestern Pennsylvania are likely to pay hundreds of dollars less.

Related: Obamacare Sticker Shock Found in Deductibles, Not Premiums

The discrepancies are examined in a report by Kaiser Health News, which identified the lowest price of premiums on Obamacare’s silver plan by region. Though there are a number of reasons prices vary by geography, including the overall health of a population, the study suggests that the price of premiums is affected most by competition among hospitals and doctors in a region.

Areas with a limited number of hospitals and doctors tend to be more expensive since care providers can demand higher prices from insurance companies.

For example, residents of Southwestern Georgia pay some of the highest premiums in the country—an average of $461, since there’s only one hospital system that dominates the entire market in that region.

In contrast, the least expensive premiums are offered in Minneapolis-St. Paul, where there are four major health care systems. Consumers in the Twin Cities pay an average of $154 a month. Kaiser says a similar plan costs nearly three times as much across the river in Wisconsin, where there are fewer providers.

Related: How to Find the Best Plan on Obamacare Exchanges

Overall, the price of premiums on Obamacare’s silver plans tend to be less expensive than those on employer based plans, according to a study by PwC’s Health Research Institute. The report found that the average cost of premiums sold on the Obamacare exchanges is about $5,844 annually —or 4 percent less than the average cost of $6,119 for an employer-provided plan with comparable benefits.

However, a study by HealthPocket Inc. shows that deductibles on these plans are, on average, 42 percent higher than comparable employer based plans.

Here are the 10 most expensive regions for insurance based on monthly premiums:

(The list was compiled using monthly silver premiums (the standard plan) for a 40-year-old individual. The ranking is based on rates listed in federal and state insurance marketplaces and data compiled by Kaiser Family Foundation researchers.)

$483: Colorado Mountain Resort Region

$461: Southwest Georgia

$456: Rural Nevada 

$445: Far western Wisconsin

$423: Southern Georgia

$405: Most of Wyoming

$399: Southeast Mississippi

$395: Vermont

$383: Fairfield, Conn

$381: Alaska

Top 10 least expensive regions for insurance based on monthly premiums:

$154: Minneapolis-St. Paul

$164: Pittsburgh and Northwestern Pennsylvania

$166: Middle Minnesota

$167: Tucson, Ariz.

$171: Northwestern Minnesota

$173: Salt Lake City

$176: Hawaii

$180: Knoxville, Tenn

$180: Western and North Central Minnesota

$181: Chattanooga, Tenn

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Washington Correspondent Brianna Ehley, based in D.C., covers Congress, government agencies and spending issues, health care, and tax and economic policy for The Fiscal Times.