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Growing Number Of States Are Reporting Lower Than Expected Health Care Premiums

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"Growing Number Of States Are Reporting Lower Than Expected Health Care Premiums"

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Health premiums in Maryland’s exchanges will be “among the lowest of the 12 states that have available proposed or approved rates for comparison,” the state’s exchange — Maryland Health Connection — announced Friday. The news comes just as New York,Oregon, Montana, California, and Louisiana are also reporting lower than expected premiums.

In Maryland, a 25-year-old will be able to purchase a plan that is more comprehensive than policies currently available on the individual market for $114 per month, while a middle aged adult will have to pay approximately $260 per month for insurance. A 21-year-old non-smoker can start as low as $93 a month. Officials say they used their authority to deny rate increases to reduce the proposed premiums by “more than 50 percent.” Thirty other states have have similar authority.

The prices Marylanders will pay are lower than the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) anticipated, but do cost more than the bare-bones plans that are available today. Residents will have a choice of nine insurance carriers and three out of four people purchasing coverage through the exchange will qualify for tax credits, further reducing the cost of coverage. Nationally, 6 million out of the 7 million people who are expected to enroll in 2014 will receive subsidies.

“Historically, insurance carriers have been allowed to turn down people with pre-existing conditions and allow only the healthiest individuals into their plans,” said Rebecca Pearce, Executive Director of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange. “In 2014, that will change, and 740,000 Marylanders will have new access to health coverage with more robust benefits.

Earlier this week, the Connecticut exchange announced that since a new insurer lowered its projected premiums, “the average cost for an individual-market HealthyCT plan dropped by 36 percent, from $427 per month to $271.” In Nevada, preliminary costs find that strong competition between insurers in some areas of the state will lower individuals’ premiums.

The news is on track with a report from the Department of Health and Human Services, which found that “the lowest cost silver plan in the individual market in 2014 is, on average, 18 percent less expensive” than past projections.

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