By Robert A. Vella
Here’s the latest news on the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a Obamacare):
From The Washington Post – Federal insurance exchange subsidies cut premiums by average of 76%, HHS reports
The 28-page report, by the Department of Health and Human Services, is the government’s first effort to gauge the affordability and availability of health plans under the Affordable Care Act, now that the first insurance sign-up period has ended.
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The health officials said they have not yet analyzed the incomes of people who qualified for the subsidies. But overall, the report shows, the average monthly tax credit this year is $264. Without the federal help, the average premium chosen by people eligible for a tax credit would have been $346 per month, and the subsidy lowered the consumers’ premiums, on average, by 76 percent. The result is that four out of five people with subsidies are paying premiums of no more than $100 a month — although that does not include money they might need to spend for insurance deductibles and other out-of-pocket costs.
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On average, the analysis found, people buying in the federal exchange had a choice of 47 health plans, offered by an average of five different insurance companies. The level of competition is slightly below what was found in late September, days before the federal insurance exchange opened, when HHS issued a report saying that the typical American would have a choice of 53 health plans from eight different insurance companies.
From Daily Kos – Obamacare’s very good week
More insurers means, as Kaiser Family Foundation President Larry Levitt says, potentially lower premiums and thus lower costs overall—less the government is paying in subsidies, more consumer choice, and “marketing muscle” from big insurers that will help boost enrollments. More insurers being willing to enter the market helps prove another point which was reinforced this week—these are paying customers. If there was a huge problem with people paying their premiums, insurers would be staying away.
From The Huffington Post – Millions Get Obamacare For $100 Or Less
Premiums are likely to rise for most consumers next year, as they typically have for decades. Health insurance companies already are submitting widely varying proposals for next year’s rates to state regulators. Some have requested hikes of 10 percent or more, while others aim to lower prices. Premiums for people who don’t get health insurance from their jobs rose an average of 10 percent a year prior to the Affordable Care Act, according to an analysis published by the Commonwealth Fund this month.
People who receive tax credits largely should be shielded from premium increases, however. The Affordable Care Act caps their monthly costs based on income, and uses tax credits to fill the gap between that cutoff and the price of the health insurance plan.