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Rural Floridians will pay more under Obamacare

By   /   October 28, 2013  /   No Comments

By William Patrick | Florida Watchdog

New York Times

AFFORDABLE?: Americans living in rural areas will pay more for health insurance through the Obamacare exchanges.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Check that zip code.

Americans living in rural areas and small towns are facing higher premiums than their neighbors living in and around cities, a cost analysis by the New York Times says.

Too few insurance companies are participating in places with sparse populations.

“The analysis suggests that the ambitions of the Affordable Care Act to increase competition have unfolded unevenly, at least in the early going, and have not addressed many of the factors that contribute to high prices,” reported the Times.

That lack of competition goes well beyond the Sunshine State.

Nearly 60 percent of all counties in the 34 states with federally run health exchanges have one or two insurance carriers, according to data provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

That includes all of north Florida and most of the south-central part of the state, as well as all of North Carolina, West Virginia, New Hampshire, Maine, Alabama, Mississippi, Missouri, Kansas, Wyoming and Alaska.

Florida Watchdog contacted the state Office of Insurance Regulation for more information but was referred to the agency’s rate summary for all 27 health insurance companies and health organizations participating in Florida’s exchange.

Though prices are mostly higher across the board, OIR’s list of insurance providers does not include areas of coverage.

Obamacare subsidies, designed to reduce premium costs, will still apply to people who qualify no matter where they live. But for rural Americans, there’s a bit of a catch, said Josh Archambault, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Government Accountability.

“Premiums are higher in rural settings, along with the subsidies that are paired with them,” said Archambault. “However, Obamacare assumes life is static, so even a minor life event, like a small raise or promotion, can result in a high tax bill next year. If a rural farmer mis-estimates their income, they could also end up with a tax bill.

“Rural Americans are finding out that the promises of Obamacare’s exchanges have skipped over their communities.”

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William Patrick is Watchdog.org’s Florida reporter. His work has been featured by Fox News, the Drudge Report, and Townhall.com, as well as other national news and opinion websites. He’s also been cited and reposted by numerous state news organizations, including Florida Trend, Sunshine State News and the Miami Herald, and is a member of Investigative Reporters and Editors and the Florida Press Association. William’s work has impacted discussions on education, privacy, criminal justice reform, and government and corporate accountability. Prior to joining Watchdog, William worked for the James Madison Institute in Tallahassee, Fla. There, he launched a legislative news website covering state economic issues. After leaving New York City in 2010, William worked for the Florida Attorney General’s Office where he assisted state attorneys general in prosecuting Medicaid Fraud. William graduated magna cum laude from Hunter College, City University of New York. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife and three young children.