By Mike Perleberg
(Undated) – The federal government is giving a first look at approximately how much health insurance premiums will cost individuals and families purchasing health coverage through the exchange established by the Affordable Care Act.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released preliminary premium costs Wednesday or 36 states where data was available, meaning the estimates could change. The six-month open enrollment period for the exchange begin October 1 and continue until March 31, 2014.
“In the past, Hoosiers were too often denied or priced-out of quality health insurance options, but thanks to the Affordable Care Act they will be able to choose from a number of new coverage options at a price that is affordable,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
Eligibility for the exchange will be limited to middle-income people younger than 65 currently without health care through their employer, Medicaid, or Medicare. There are about 880,000 of those people in Indiana today, according to the Indiana Hospital Association.
A release from the HHS said their report finds that Hoosiers will have average of 34 qualified health plan choices in an online Health Insurance Marketplace at www.healthcare.gov.
The estimates show that prices vary depending on the plan. There are gold, silver, and bronze plans, as well as a “catastrophic” plan for young adults. Other considerations in the plan price are the person, income, family size, tobacco use, and other factors. All plans cover doctor visits, hospital stays, preventive care and prescriptions. The ACA prevents anybody from being denied insurance because of a preexisting condition.
Indiana’s average premium for the cheapest silver plan, according to the HHS, is $392 while the bronze plan would cost $304. The national average premium for the second lowest cost silver plan will be $328 before federal tax credits, or 16 percent below projections based off of Congressional Budget Office estimates, the agency claims.
Examples given by the HHS include a 27-year old Indiana resident making $25,000. He or she would pay $80 per month for the lowest cost bronze plan or $145 for the second-lowest silver plan, after tax credits. The agency also offered up estimates for a family of four in Indiana living on $50,000 per year. For them, the lowest bronze plan would cost only $46 per month.
The Indiana Primary Health Care Association, Inc. is hoping the new Health Insurance Marketplace will be a solution for the aforementioned 880,000 Hoosiers without insurance.
“This is a critical time for statewide organizations to join in a collaborative effort to assist Indiana residents in achieving affordable health care, while improving the overall health and well-being of our state,” said Philip Morphew, CEO of the association. “Any organization – big or small – can play an important role in encouraging patients to enroll in new coverage options made available by the Indiana Health Insurance Marketplace.”
Those without online access can speak with a trained telephone representative by calling 1-800-318-2596 toll free.