SUNNYVALE, Calif., April 11 (UPI) -- Health insurance premiums are in line with the Affordable Care Act's age restriction on pricing so young people are not facing higher costs, U.S. experts say.
However, Bruce Telkamp, chief executive officer of HealthPocket.com, a website that compares and ranks all health plans, found gender-based pricing equality required by the health reform law will have a significant effect on pricing in most states.
Currently in most states, a health insurance premium for individual insurance plans purchased by a consumer -- not employer-provided health insurance -- is based on age as well as other factors such as gender, health and smoking status, Telkamp said.
But, beginning in 2014, the Affordable Care Act will limit how much a health plan can charge in regards to age, with the oldest not paying more than three times the premium amount of the youngest that live in the same region and share the same status as smokers or non-smokers.
The study showed average premiums across the nation were 260 percent for 63-year-olds versus 23-year-olds under current plans, well under the 300 percent cap allowed under the healthcare reform law. Fourteen states currently exceed the law's cap with the four highest above 350 percent of the limit including Alaska, Delaware, Oregon and Wyoming.
"The biggest unknown right now for healthcare consumers is how health reform will affect what they pay for health coverage starting in 2014," Telkamp said in a statement. "It is encouraging to know that age rating requirements in the health law will not be a major driver of increases to premiums."
The HealthPocket report also found the average premium for a 23-year-old man was nearly 20 percent less expensive than the average premium for a 23-year-old woman.
The results of the study were based on an analysis of more than 20,000 premium quotes for 3,629 health insurance plans available within the two largest metropolitan regions in each state for for males and females ages 23, 30 and 63.