Press Release

RELEASE: The Evidence Is In: Obamacare Is Working

Press Contacts

  • Joshua Dorner

States that have announced their 2014 health care marketplace plans are seeing lower or lower than expected rates and increased competition among insurance companies and marketplaces across the country. The rates are for the new health care marketplaces that are being established as a result of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Not only are rates coming in lower or lower than expected, but they don’t even account for what subsides enrollees will qualify for – making coverage even more affordable. A new study released shows that 48% of Americans enrolled in the individual market will get subsides on average of $2,672.

  • Of the seven states – California, Colorado, Maryland, Montana*, New York and Rhode Island, Vermont – whose rates are approved, each state has seen lower premiums and increased competition making the marketplace accessible and affordable to their consumers.
  • In six of the seven states, the state is fully implementing the health care law – setting up state based marketplaces and expanding Medicaid.

Take a look at the states from Maryland to Utah to Louisiana who are proving that Obamacare works:

  • Premiums in New York are set to fall by at least 50 percent. The New York Times noted that “beginning in October, individuals in New York City who now pay $1,000 a month or more for coverage will be able to shop for health insurance for as little as $308 monthly. With federal subsidies, the cost will be even lower.” New Yorkers will see lower premiums and will be able to choose from 17 different insurance plans when enrolling in coverage in October.
  • In May, California released the rates that people without employer sponsored coverage would pay on the new health care marketplace.  The costs for a medium coverage plan are far below predictions. For example, in southern Los Angeles County Health Net is going to charge $242 a month for one of its plans while Blue Shield is charging $287 and Kaiser Permanente $325 for the same coverage. That means that the 5 million uninsured residents of California will now have more access to affordable, higher quality care than is currently available. The LA Times noted that “For the first time, consumers are in a position to make an informed decision about health insurance,” and “Insurers, meanwhile, are going toe to toe to win customers, keeping prices as low as possible and stepping up quality of service.”
  • Private insurers vying to sell coverage on Oregon’s health marketplace this October requested to redo their rates after learning that their plans’ premiums were higher than other proposals and would not be competitive in the marketplace. One plan even requested to lower its rates by 15 percent.
  • In Montana the individual and small group health plans sold on the marketplace will be cheaper and offer better coverage. Without the health law, insurance officials predicted the average premium in 2014 to rise by 10 percent to $290. Instead, the average cost for an individual plan will be $273 — about five percent lower than it would have been without the health law’s marketplace. Costs are going down even has insurance companies will now have to cover ten “essential health benefits,” including prescription drug and mental health services, that skimpy individual plans almost never cover.
  • In the south, residents of Louisiana will soon see lower premiums as well. Just last week Louisiana’s largest private health insurer, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana, estimated that two-thirds of its customers who buy their own policies will pay the same premiums or less for better coverage under the federal health care overhaul.
  • Washington is also seeing lower rates. After warning that premiums would go up by 50-70 percent under Obamacare, Premera Blue Cross released rates for individual plans that are far lower that current levels. Premera currently offers individual plans for 21-year-old non-smokers at a monthly cost of $325, with a deductible of $1,800. In the exchange, that same person in King County could purchase a similar Premera plan with a lower deductible at a rate of $276 — a decrease of 15 percent.
  • Premiums in Maryland’s exchanges are “among the lowest of the 12 states that have available proposed or approved rates for comparison,” the state’s exchange — Maryland Health Connection announced last week.  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. 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.
  • Connecticut 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.” The rates were revised after HealthyCT got new data suggesting that the population likely to buy coverage is healthier than previously anticipated.
  • Utahns will have at least 99 options for insurance plans when the marketplaces open for enrollment on Oct. 1. “That’s a robust number and compared to what other states are doing, it’s right in the ballpark,” said Jason Stevenson of the Utah Health Policy Project. The plans start as low as $162 – and that is just the average. An estimated 270,000 of Utah’s nearly 400,000 uninsured will be eligible to buy insurance through the exchange. Federal health officials estimate 93 percent of those eligible to shop in the Utah exchange will also qualify for subsidies to help make the cost of insurance more affordable.
  • In Nevada, preliminary costs find that strong competition between insurers driven by the exchanges is driving down rates. In places where more health insurers have signed up to participate in exchanges, competition is stronger and premiums are lower.
  • Colorado’s marketplace will offer 150 individual policies from 13 insurers whose rates will vary based on a person’s age, geographic location, and whether or not they smoke. Premiums for a 27-year-old non-smoker will be about $135 per month . A “Bronze-level” plan for a 40-year-old non-smoker will run about $177 per month — cheaper than the current Colorado individual policy average of $200 per month. The coverage plans will be better than current plans as Obamacare offers a broader benefit package – including preventative care – than many individual policies currently do.
  • Health care will cost even less than expected in Vermont and people will have even more choices. There will be 20 varieties of coverage plans to accommodate the 100,000 Vermonters who can sign up to enroll in the marketplace starting Oct. 1. Mark Larson – commissioner of the Department of Vermont Health Access – estimated as many as 60,000 of the 100,000 people shifting to Vermont Health Connect could qualify for subsidies and tax credits.
  • Montana State Auditor Monica Lindeen was “pleasantly surprised” when the states rates came out saying that “Montanans who have survived cancer and other serious illnesses will no longer be denied health insurance or priced out of the market.” Three different insurance providers are offering policies starting at $155 per month. Another plan with a lower deductible of $500 would run $265 per month before subsidies, and policies for middle-aged Americans will range from $360 to $660 per month before subsidies — which the vast majority of Montanans will qualify for.

Bottom Line: Obamacare is working. And with 24 million Americans expected to gain coverage through the marketplaces by 2016, that’s great news for Americans’ pocketbooks — as well as their health. It’s time Republicans do their job and make sure their constituents get coverage and the benefits from Obamacare, instead of doing everything in their power to take away those benefits from their constituents.

* Montana has received approval from Health and Human Services to run state-based plan management activities to support certification of qualified health plans in the federal exchange.

For more information or to speak with an expert on this topic, contact Tony Carrk at tcarrk@americanprogressaction.org or 202-481-8240.

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