The Individual Insurance Market Before Reform: Low Premiums and Low Benefits
Based on analyses of individual market health plans sold through ehealthinsurance and enrollment information collected from individual market carriers, this article profiles the individual health insurance market in 2007, before health reform. The article examines premiums, plan enrollment, cost sharing, and covered benefits and compares individual and group markets. Premiums for the young are lower than in the group market but higher for older people. Cost sharing is substantial in the individual insurance market. Seventy-eight percent of people were enrolled in plans with deductibles for single coverage, which averaged $2,117. Annual out-of-pocket maximums averaged $5,271. Many plans do not cover important benefits. Twelve percent of individually insured persons had no coverage for office visits and only 43% have maternity benefits in their basic coverage. With the advent of health exchanges and new market rules in 2014, covered benefits may become richer, cost sharing will decline, but premiums for the young will rise.
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