About Chelyen Davis:
Chelyen Davis is health reporter for The Free Lance-Star
New analysis of average premiums in upcoming marketplace
One of the most difficult things to nail down about the upcoming health insurance marketplaces is how much customers using them can expect to pay in monthly premiums for insurance.
The marketplaces, also called exchanges, are being run by some states and the federal government — Virginia plans to use the federal exchange. They’re intended to provide a place for people without insurance to buy it, more cheaply and easily than is currently possible for most people who don’t have insurance through an employer and aren’t eligible for Medicaid or Medicare.
Enrollment in the exchange programs starts in less than a month, Oct. 1, and coverage under exchange programs begins Jan. 1.
But getting clear comparisons of plans and rates has been tricky — all exchanges will have several tiers of plans, and in most states several different insurance companies are offering plans. Many people will be eligible for federal tax subsidies to help pay for buying insurance through the exchange, but people don’t know exactly how much help they might receive.
Today the Kaiser Family Foundation published an analysis comparing average rates in a number of states, including Virginia (although the plans proposed in Virginia haven’t received final approval yet).
You can read that analysis here.
Kaiser looked at rates in certain cities in different states, using Richmond for Virginia.
A single 40-year-0ld in Richmond making $28,725 per year (250 percent of the poverty level) could expect to pay an average of $253 a month for the second-lowest-cost silver-tier plan before subsidies, and $193 a month for that plan after receiving subsidies.
The tax subsidies are calculated using the silver-tier plans (the exchanges all use a metal-named system for their plans, ranging from bronze to gold. The lesser the metal, the higher the plan’s deductible and the less it covers). People who receive subsidies can choose other metal levels of plans, but that won’t change their subsidy amount.
If that Richmond 40-year-old chose the cheapest bronze plan on offer in the area, their monthly premium would average $170 before subsidies and $110 after subsidies.
Rates are lower, Kaiser said, for a 25-year-old single Richmonder making the same amount — $199 a month for the silver plan before subsidies and $193 after, $134 a month for the bronze plan before subsidies and $127 after.
For single 60-year-old Richmonder making the same amount, buying the cheapest bronze plan could cost just $16 a month after subsidies.
Kaiser also shows the same rates for cities in a number of other states, a comparison that shows a wide variance — rates in New York, for example, and Burlington Vermont are quite a bit higher than those in Richmond. Overall, though, Kaiser says the rates are “generally lower than expected.”
If you look at Kaiser’s analysis, scroll down to page 24 for a more detailed look at the company’s comparison of Virginia’s plans.