Something curious happened when a shopper ran their California health insurance quote.
We received a call from an online shopper with a distinct hint of suspicion in their voice. They found a plan that they liked in the quoting engine and proceeded with an online application.
The online application for Blue Shield of California re-quoted the plan but the rate came back differently. Of course, they asked pointed questions to us but there was a good reason for the difference and we want to bring this to your attention so that you get the best rate possible.
Some carriers will quote a plan based on the age of the primary spouse while others will automatically base the rate on the age of which ever spouse is younger.
This is very important since age is the primary driver of California health plan rate differences. California health is rated based on age bands for most carriers or individual ages.
For example, someone age 40-44 will be charged a different rate from someone age 45-49 and so on. The jumps can be significant since a person's health care cost doubles with each decade of their life. The rates also go up as you get older and enter a new age band or rate unlike other types of insurance (such as life). Now if you're just one person applying for health insurance, this concern won't matter but let's look at a situation where it can have a big impact.
Let's say that you are age 47 and your spouse's age is 50. With some carriers, if you list the 47 year old first as the primary applicant, the rates will be lower than if you list the 50 year old as the primary for the exact same plan.
This is really a system's issue at the corresponding carrier since their system should be able to parse out who is younger and base it on that. There are situations where people have been paying higher premiums for years just because they listed the older spouse as the primary. This is not good.
How do we avoid this?
Make sure when you run your instant quote and when you complete your online California health application, that you list the younger spouse as the primary. There's very little reason to specify the primary either way since it's all one policy anyway for the family.
Most likely, the carriers will go to an individual rating system where each person is priced out separately and then combined for a "family rate".
There can be a huge disparity between ages of spouses where 15-20 years can separate them. This can significantly impact the rates shown and available on plans where it's still a true family rate based on the age of younger spouse such as some of the HSA's.
In this situation, you may see some plans which are much more competitive and the age difference could be be the cause of this.
Either way, list the primary applicant as the
younger spouse to make sure you're comparing
apples and apples.
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