Significant Choice and Lower than Expected Premiums Available in New Health Insurance Marketplace

Increased competition in the health insurance marketplace will lead to multiple and affordable choices for consumers, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Individuals in the 36 states where HHS will fully or partly run the online marketplaces will have an average of 53 qualified health plan choices. The vast majority of consumers will have a choice of at least two different health insurance companies. Plans will be divided into four different types — bronze, silver, gold and platinum — varying based on the size of their deductibles, copayments and other consumer cost-sharing. Officials say that the average premium for the silver plan will be $328 before tax credits, or 16 percent below projections based off of Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates.

The new marketplaces will enable millions of Americans to shop for and purchase health insurance coverage in one place. Consumers will be able to find out whether they qualify for premium assistance and compare plans side by side based on pricing, quality and benefits. No one can be denied coverage because of a preexisting condition. Once operable, there will be a six-month open enrollment period that runs through March 2014. Coverage begins as early as January 1, 2014.

Young adults will also have the option of purchasing a “catastrophic” plan, increasing their number of choices to 57 on average, if they are not on their parents’ plan, up to age 26. About 95 percent of consumers will have a choice of two or more health insurance issuers, often many more. About one in four of these insurance companies is offering health plans in the individual market for the first time in 2014, a sign of healthy competition, HHS officials say.

Premium and plan options are broken down by state where information is available. For example, a 27-year old living in Dallas who makes $25,000 per year will pay $74 per month for the lowest cost bronze plan and $139 per month for the lowest cost silver plan, including tax credits. He or she will be able to choose from among 43 qualified health plans. A family of four in Dallas with an income of $50,000 per year will pay $26 a month for the bronze plan, taking into account tax credits. The majority (around 6 out of 10) of the people uninsured today will be able to find coverage for $100 or less per month in the Marketplace, taking into account premium tax credits and Medicaid coverage.

Consumers can get more information through Consumers can participate in online Web chats or call 1-800-318-2596 toll free. Community health centers, navigators and other assisters are available in local communities to provide in-person help with coverage choices. Local libraries will help consumers learn about their options and hundreds of Champions for Coverage, which are public and private organizations all across the country, are helping people learn about their options and enroll in affordable coverage.

To read the report on health insurance rates, click here. To view the data on rates, click here.

Source: HHS, September 24, 2013

Healthcare Trends & Forecasts in 2014: A Strategic Planning Session, a 60 minute-webinar on October 30, 2013 webinar at 1:30 pm Eastern provides a roadmap to the key issues, challenges and opportunities for healthcare providers and payors in 2014, including the launch of health insurance exchanges, cuts in the Medicare Advantage program and the challenge of meeting the care coordination needs of the dual eligible population.

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