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Sneak preview of Obamacare rates

By Jay MacDonald · Bankrate.com
Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Posted: 6 am ET

With just three weeks remaining until the big reveal, a preview of health insurance premium rates soon to be available under Obamacare paints a picture of the prices that lie ahead as millions prepare to shop for the first time on the state health marketplaces, or exchanges.

A new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation looks at a few actual premium rates, before and after applying government subsidies for lower-income applicants. The prices are based on rate filings by insurers participating in the marketplaces in 17 states and the District of Columbia. Eleven of these states will operate their own exchanges while seven have opted to let the feds run the show.

The usual silver-plan cost: $193 per month

Using the second-lowest "silver" plan as a baseline, here's how published monthly premium rates in several cities compare using applicants of different ages, each earning $28,725, or 250 percent of the federal poverty level (FPL). Subsidies to make health insurance more affordable are available to those earning up to 400 percent of FPL.

A single 25-year-old would pay:
Los Angeles: $200 before subsidies, $193 after.
Hartford, Conn.: $258 before, $193 after.
New York: $390 before, $193 after.
Portland, Ore.: $158 before, $158 after.
Richmond, Va.: $199 before, $193 after.
Seattle: $222 before, $193 after.

A single 40-year-old would pay:
Los Angeles: $255 before subsidies, $193 after.
Hartford, Conn.: $328 before, $193 after.
New York: $390 before, $193 after.
Portland, Ore.: $201 before, $193 after.
Richmond, Va.: $253 before, $193 after.
Seattle: $283 before, $193 after.

A single 60-year-old would pay:
Los Angeles: $541 before subsidies, $193 after.
Hartford, Conn.: $697 before, $193 after.
New York: $390 before, $193 after.
Portland, Ore.: $427 before, $193 after.
Richmond, Va.: $537 before, $193 after.
Seattle: $601 before, $193 after.

(Note: New York state law does not allow premiums to vary by age.)

Difficulty in drawing comparisons

While the rates analyzed are expected to be the same ones that will post to their respective online marketplaces when enrollment begins Oct. 1, the Kaiser report stops short of comparing them to current private-market rates, a process the analysts say would be "complicated."

Why? Because unlike current private market policies, all exchange offerings must include the federal "essential health benefits" and be organized into five categories, from the lowest-cost catastrophic and bronze plans to the more expensive silver, gold and platinum plans that offer more protection.

Even making state-to-state comparisons between similar plans is problematic, due to differences in the underlying cost of health care, market competition and how state insurance officials regulate premiums, the report notes.

How do these rates stack up to what you're currently paying for individual health insurance?

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Jay MacDonald is a Bankrate contributing editor and co-author of "Future Millionaires' Guidebook," an e-book by Bankrate editors and reporters.

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1 Comment
Dee James Anderson
October 10, 2013 at 10:36 am

I understand that if you work full time now and could buy health insurance through your company that their is no discount going with the Affordable Care Act programs, regardless of yearly income. I make roughly $28000 year and am the sole provider for my wife and coverage needed for our 20 year old college student. The Silver plan was quoted to me by arches.com at $380.00 per month which is very close to going through my company insurance program for similar coverage.