Western Colorado rancher Bill Fales told Wyatt, "We've gone from letting the insurance companies use a pre-existing medical condition to jack up rates to having a pre-existing ZIP code being the reason health insurance is unaffordable." Wyatt notes, "Geography is one of only three determinants insurance companies are allowed to use to set premiums under the federal health care law, along with age and tobacco use. Insurance officials say they need such controls to remain viable." (Read more)
The Rural Blog has previously reported on the rural problem, caused in part by insurance companies' unwillingness to sell policies in certain areas, resulting in a lack of competition and rates that would otherwise be lower. Also, states that did not embrace the health reform law do not have non-profit insurance cooperatives, which must offer policies statewide, and for-profit insurers are avoiding poor areas, which are disproportionately rural.