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Health Insurance Premiums in the New World

By March 4, 2014Commentary

eHealthInsurance, which operates the first and largest private health insurance exchange, issues a report detailing the quotes for coverage for 169,000 eHealth customers during the first part of the reform law’s open enrollment period.  The results are not pretty.  (eHealth Report)  In the last quarter of 2013, average individual premiums for plans which did not have to comply with the reform law were $171 per month and family premiums for the same plans were $378.  For reform compliant plans, individual premiums were $309 a month and family premiums were $732.  The “good” news, deductibles for the old plans averaged $4900 for individuals, but were $3768 for the reform plans; and for families under the old plans they were $10,568 and $7,194 under the ACA compliant policies.  Unfortunately, most people don’t go through the deductible, so they get much higher premiums while still bearing significant out-of-pocket costs.

For 2014 reform compliant plans, bronze, the lowest level of benefits, was the most commonly selected plan.  Individual premiums for bronze were $288, for silver $358, for gold $380 and for platinum $442.  Massachusetts, the father of reform, had the highest individual premium and New Jersey the highest family premium among pre-reform plans.  For post-reform plans, Alaska had the highest individual premium and New Jersey still was the costliest for family coverage.  HMO type plans, those with more restricted networks, show a significant jump in selection, from 6% pre-reform to 36% post reform.  Welcome to the wonderful new world of health benefits–higher premiums, significant cost-sharing, less provider choice.

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