The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published health insurance marketplace premiums this morning, which means consumers can now find out how much they will have to pay for coverage under the Affordable Care Act. The Health Insurance Marketplace opens on Oct. 1 and until now, consumers were in the dark about premiums.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve spent some time researching health insurance exchanges. Although my group health insurance will remain employer-sponsored, I wanted to learn more about this key tenet of Obamacare and how it would affect me if I needed to turn to the open market for health insurance.
Thanks to a tool on the Kaiser Family Foundation website, I determined that my family would not qualify for subsidies if we needed to participate in a health insurance exchange plan. I learned that there are four levels of coverage: bronze, silver, gold and platinum. The bronze plan was the least expensive on a monthly basis but also covered the smallest percentage of expenses.
On the other end of the spectrum is the platinum plan, monthly premiums are higher but medical coverage is also better. Unfortunately, platinum plans are not available in every state. Beyond this basic information, though, I couldn’t find out how much insurance would cost because the premium information wasn’t publicly available. That’s changed, though.
I live in Arizona and healthcare coverage premiums are lower here than the national average. A family of four with an income of $50,000 could expect to pay $584 per month for silver coverage before the tax credit and $282 per month after the tax credit is applied. I wasn’t able to determine what the costs would be without subsidies – the website is filled with charts, graphs and spreadsheets but everything is still very general.
Sure, today’s release of premium rates is more information than we had yesterday, but it still isn’t actionable information — at least not in my opinion. If I were really in the market for ACA health insurance, I still don’t know what monthly rates I’d be looking at.
There is one thing that I learned through this entire process – I have great, comprehensive and affordable insurance coverage. We pay about $350 per month in pre-tax dollars for medical coverage for our family of four. This is a PPO plan that pays 90 percent of eligible expenses after a $2,000 family deductible is met. If the premiums under the Affordable Care Act are considered competitive for open marketplace insurance rates, then I can only say that I’m thankful for the amazing benefits package my husband’s employer offers.