Geographic location causes unfair health care premium costs

To the editor:

My wife and I are self-employed and therefore every year we search for the lowest cost health care insurance plan without the advantage of employer or government subsidy.

This year we selected a $6,300 deductible per person / $12,700 maximum family out of pocket plan that will cost us $12,156 in annual premiums. This is the least expensive plan available for a non-smoking couple our age living in Rice County making more than $63,720. By the way, due to MNsure’s safety net, if a similar couple earned one dollar less, the annual premium would be subsidized and reduced by over 70 percent to $3,528 (reference: MNsure website).

I could go on about the economic inefficiencies of the system implied by the above numbers, but instead I am going to focus on one element: geographic fairness.

It is reasonable to assume that if my wife and I live in Northfield, Dundas or Dennison we should pay the same monthly premium since no matter the location, our plan directs us to the Northfield Clinic and Hospital as the only local provider, and then on to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester for more serious issues.

That is not how the insurance game works. We happen to live south of North Avenue in Rice County. For the same plan, a similar Northfield couple that lives north of North Avenue in Dakota County pays an $8,880 annual premium — a 27 percent reduction saving $3,276 per year. A similar couple living in Dennison in Goodhue Country pays 13 percent more: $13,740. This discrepancy by county line was common to all plans I investigated, as I believe state law mandates it.

Not only is healthcare crazy expensive, it seems unfair in its execution.

Jim Pokorney


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