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New HHS report touts federal marketplace premiums and plan availability

  • McClatchy Washington Bureau
  • Published Tuesday, June 17, 2014, at 6:39 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, June 17, 2014, at 6:39 p.m.

— A new report by the Obama administration suggests that most people who purchased government subsidized health insurance on HealthCare.gov found affordable coverage and a wide selection of health plans on the federal insurance marketplace.

Those who used tax credits to purchase "silver" coverage on HealthCare.gov - which covers 70 percent of health care costs - paid an average premium of $69 per month, according to the report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

And 69 percent who used the tax credits to buy federal marketplace coverage had premiums of less than $100 per month, while nearly half - 46 percent - paid less than $50 per month.

In addition, 82 percent of federal marketplace users lived in areas with three to 11 plan offerings and 96 percent were in areas with two to 11 plan offerings.

On average, federal marketplace users can choose from 5 insurers and 47 marketplace plans across all the metal tiers; bronze, which cover 60 percent of health care costs, silver plans, gold plans that cover 80 percent of costs and platinum plans that cover 90 percent.

The report found competition between plan providers lowers premiums. That bodes well for plan prices in 2015 when more plans are expected to enter the marketplace.

The new data, which covers the 36 states that used HealthCare.gov, is the most comprehensive pricing information since the marketplace enrollment period closed in April.

The report does not, however, provide information about the price and availability of coverage on 14 state-run marketplaces which enrolled about 2.5 million of the 8 million people who signed up for coverage.

Nor does the report say how many Americans have actually paid for their coverage thus far. Senior officials at HHS said that figure won't be available until later in the year

The tax credits, available to individuals earning between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level, lowered individual premiums by 76 percent on average, or by $82 to $346 per month, the report found.

Nearly seven in ten federal marketplace users who enrolled in plans using tax credits - 69 percent - had monthly premiums of $100 or less while 46 percent had premiums of $50 or less.

Of the people who selected silver plans, the report found 65 percent picked the lowest or second-lowest cost plan available.

For a 27-year-old, the national average for the second-lowest cost silver plan in a specific area - the so-called "benchmark plan" - is $226 per month, with prices ranging from a low of $127 per month to a high of $406 per month. Benchmark plan premiums were comparable nationwide.

To read the report, go to http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/2014/Premiums/2014MktPlacePremBrf.pdf

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