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Health care coverage cost could depend on where you live

10:44 PM, Oct 22, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- Where you live may end up costing you more for your health care coverage. It all comes down to competition and it seems some insurers don't want to play with the new Affordable Care Act. 

The easiest way to illustrate this may be to point out an intersection where four gas stations stand. The existence of all four keeps each station competitive with the others, and keeps prices down. 

Now, insurance experts are saying this is exactly the opposite of what some of us might find either now or down the road with our healthcare costs after the Affordable Care Act.

Less competition means you may pay more, and it all depends on where you are. In 36 states with exchanges run or supported by the government, the Department of Health and Human Services says you'll have an average of eight insurance companies to pick from. For example, West Virginia has one and New York has 16. 

Jayne O'Donnell is a consumer reporter with USA Today. She's done the research and wrote an article on this very subject. 

She points out, "But that doesn't mean those eight insurers are even selling across those states, so it gets even more complicated quickly. There might be only one insurer selling in the major metropolitan area and then just a smattering around the state. So, it actually looks a little worse when you go down a little further."

If you're wondering how where you live stacks up, D.C. has three insurers, Maryland has four, and Virginia, may have eight, or not.

It's actually more complicated because Virginia is being run by the federal government and we got a different number than they say. We will follow up on that.  

It comes down to location, location, location. 

O'Donnell says to our west may lie the definition of unfair, "Not only does West Virginia have only one insurance company, but you know it but you need to be reminded of it, they're at the bottom when it comes to poor health."

She adds, "So these are the people who need health insurance the most, have the least to pay for their health insurance and the least choice when it comes to health insurance."

ODonnell also says much like gas stations, you can't just build one in a day - if an insurance company doesn't participate in an exchange now, they may be shut out until 2015.

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