Individual Health Insurance Policies Cost Less in Chicago Suburbs

Study shows wild disparity in pricing between Chicago suburbs and the city.  A study has found that people living in Chicago’s inner-ring suburbs – towns like Oak Park, Evanston, Berwyn and Oak Lawn – have access to individual healthcare insurance quotes that average 14.6 percent less  than people living within city limits. According to data compiled by Norvax, Inc., a technology firm that serves the healthcare insurance industry, people who live 15 to 25 miles from downtown Chicago pay 12 to 15 percent less on their monthly premiums.  Move out another 25 or 40 miles from the city and premium rates are 20 to 30 percent less.

Norvax makes software that lets individuals search the lowest or best-priced private coverage offered by insurance brokers and agents.  Its public exchange, which has more than 80 insurance carriers, operates as Go Health Insurance. The research was based on data culled from running quotes for 3,029 zip codes and 963 health insurance plans available in Illinois.  Later, Norvax narrowed the field of research solely to the Chicago area.

The most unexpected result is that residents of Chicago’s southern and western suburbs, many of which are considered to be blue-collar, pay 24.5 percent less for healthcare insurance than their city-dwelling counterparts.  By contrast, suburbanites living north of the city pay 14.6 percent less.

According to Judy Dugan, research director for public policy advocacy group Consumer Watchdog, Norvax’s research proves that today’s individual-coverage insurance market “is the Wild West” because the customized coverage available is not regulated.  “It’s one reason we need healthcare reform – to get rid of this kind of weird disparity in pricing,” she said.

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