Picking out health insurance, be it government-sponsored or otherwise, is a notoriously labyrinthine and grueling process. This interactive map, from the New York Times‘ consistently excellent Upshot, makes at least part of it easy to understand at a glance.
The map is essentially one big pleasantly colored argument to switch your Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) insurance plan for 2015. According to the data, gathered from the McKinsey Center for U.S. Health System Reform, renewed plans that were the cheapest last year will increase by an average of 9.7%, while switching from the cheapest plan last year to the cheapest plan this year will yield an average increase of only 3.4%.
But that isn’t true everywhere. Depending on your location, it might be that coverage is increasing or decreasing in cost across the board. The Upshot map offers color coding by location to make these differences instantly recognizable. The brighter the yellow, the more the price is going up; the darker the blue, the more it’s going down. If you live in a lighter-colored area, you should probably switch.
That’s because, as the Upshot notes, the Affordable Care Act encourages insurance companies to compete for the lowest rates, but if you’re already enrolled, the law makes it easy to stay in the same plan. If you don’t switch plans by December 15, you’ll be automatically reenrolled in the one you have now. That option is tempting: switching may involve using different doctors and medications, contending with different copays and other changes. But those inconveniences are minor compared with the approximately 10% more heath insurance customers will likely pay if they fail to switch their plan. Time to get shopping.