The most comprehensive study on Obamacare to date finds that Americans’ insurance premiums under the health law will be “lower than expected.” Many Americans will pay even less than the top-line rates after factoring in government subsidies for their health coverage, with some paying nothing at all for crucial medical coverage.
The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) looked at individual policy prices in the 17 states, plus the District of Columbia, that have released comprehensive numbers for their Obamacare insurance marketplaces. Since premiums under the law will vary based on factors such as age and geographic location, KFF chose to examine how much the second-least expensive “Silver” mid-level plan and the least-expensive bare-bones “Bronze” level plan would cost for 25-year-old, 40-year-old, and 60-year-old Americans in those 17 states’ largest cities. The report includes both the top-line prices for those demographics, as well as what their costs would be after factoring in government subsidies based on varying income levels.
According to KFF’s findings, a single 40-year-old in Los Angeles could buy the second-cheapest mid-level plan for $255 per month — but if that person makes just under $30,000 per year, he or she will only have to pay $193 per month after receiving a government subsidy.
Strikingly, in every city analyzed, a family of four with two 40-year-old adults and a household income of $60,000 per year would pay $409 per month for the second-cheapest Silver plan after receiving subsidies. That’s more or less in line with the average $4,565 per year that workers currently contribute towards their employer-sponsored health insurance plans.
The report also finds good news for younger and older Americans. In Seattle, a 25-year-old making $28,725 per year will pay $193 per month for a Silver plan after subsidies and $138 per month for the cheapest Bronze plan after subsidies. For a single 60-year-old with the same income, those number would be $193 per month and $44 per month, respectively, after factoring in subsidies. And in Burlington, Vermont, both a single 25-year-old making $25,000 per year and a 60-year-old couple making a combined $30,000 per year would pay nothing at all for the cheapest, bare-bones Bronze plan.
While the KFF researchers emphasized that there will be significant variation in Obamacare premiums depending on geographic location, they concluded that premiums would be lower than what the government expected, writing, “the latest projections from the Congressional Budget Office imply that the premium for a 40-year-old in the second lowest cost silver plan would average $320 per month nationally. Fifteen of the eighteen rating areas we examined have premiums below this level, suggesting that the cost of coverage for consumers and the federal budgetary cost for tax credits will be lower than anticipated.”
Plans purchased through the Obamacare marketplaces will be significantly more robust than current individual policies, which often skimp on essential coverage to bring down their prices and have been dismissed by consumer advocates as “junk insurance.” Obamacare marketplace plans must cover 10 broad categories of “essential health benefits,” including for prescription drug coverage, mental health services, and maternity care.