But New York is not a typical case, others note. For one, the state has long required insurers to cover preexisting conditions – just as Obamacare now requires for the nation. It has also required more comprehensive care in individual plans than other states.
That means New York had instituted some of the most costly provisions in Obamacare before the federal law mandated them nationwide. Indeed, health insurance in the state has long been among the most expensive in the nation, especially for individuals. The average monthly premium for individuals in New York has been 66 percent higher than the national average, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.
The result was that few New Yorkers bought health insurance unless they had to.
“New York is a little bit unique,” says Linda Tiano, a health care attorney with Epstein Becker Green in New York. “Nobody really wanted to be in that business in New York, or redesign their regular networks for individuals, and this made it a very, very expensive product.”
Now, the mandate for all to buy insurance should broaden the pool of payers, driving down costs. The health exchanges will also help streamline a system that was not easy to navigate previously.
With states facing an Oct. 1 deadline to begin enrolling residents in their new health-insurance exchanges, many states have not yet announced the premiums their exchanges will offer. But of those who have, none has had numbers as startling as New York’s.
In May, "Cover Oregon" posted the premiums for its online exchange and the cost savings varied, depending on the region and the profile of the individual. The “Covered California,” exchange, too, announced its premiums, though these have yet to be approved by state regulators.