The political divide between most Alabamians and most San Francisco Bay Area residents is stark.
So is the difference in their average cost of health insurance.
During the Alabama/California Conversation Project, it came as no surprise to the women in the group that the Trump voters among them overwhelmingly opposed the Affordable Care Act – the health insurance overhaul also known as Obamacare – while the Clinton voters supported it.
But what did surprise them was the difference in how they personally experienced the health insurance system.
“I had no idea your insurance rates were worse than ours,” said Lisa Ann, a retired police officer from Sonoma County, north of San Francisco.
In general, health insurance costs are higher in Alabama, they’re rising more rapidly, and they account for a bigger chunk of household income than in California.
Some Alabamians in the group were surprised, too, that the Californians hadn’t experienced the kinds of premium and deductible increases they have in the past year. They told stories about friends and family who were paying more per month for insurance than they did for their mortgages, and about learning their premiums would rise again for 2017.