Study estimates Obamacare's health-insurance premiums — and how and where to enroll beginning Oct. 1

Peninsula Daily News
and The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — The No. 1 question about President Obama's health-care law is whether consumers will be able to afford the coverage.

Now the answer is coming in.

The biggest study yet of premiums posted by states finds that the sticker price for a 21-year-old buying a mid-range policy will average about $270 a month.

That's before government tax credits that act like a discount for most people, bringing down the cost based on their income.

List-price premiums for a 40-year-old buying a mid-range plan will average close to $330 monthly, the study by Avalere Health found.

For a 60-year-old, they were nearly double that at $615 a month.

Starting Oct. 1, people who don't have health-care coverage on their job can go to new online insurance markets in their states to shop for a private plan and find out if they qualify for a tax credit.

Come Jan. 1, virtually all Americans will be required to have coverage, or face fines.

Many consumers will like their new options, particularly if they qualify for a tax credit.

But others may have to stretch to afford coverage.

U.S. Health and Human Services spokeswoman Joanne Peters said consumers will have options that are cheaper than the averages presented.

“We're consistently seeing that premiums will be lower than expected,” she added.

“For the many people that qualify for a tax credit, the cost will be even lower.”

The study looked at premiums for nonsmoking 21-year-olds, 40-year-olds and 60-year-olds in Washington state, 10 other states and the District of Columbia.

It compared four levels of plans available under Obama's law — bronze, silver, gold and platinum.

Bronze plans will cover 60 percent of expected medical costs; silver plans will cover 70 percent; gold will cover 80 percent, and platinum 90 percent.

All plans cover the same benefits, but bronze features the lowest premiums, paired with higher deductibles and co-pays. Platinum plans would have the lowest out-of-pocket costs and the highest premiums.

The data from Washington state did not include 12 additional plans from three companies that were certified last week for sale in this state's online marketplace.

In general, premiums for those plans ere slightly higher than those previously approved by the state's insurance office.

Local information

Beginning Oct. 1, people can enroll in a health plan that's part of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act by talking with a representative in person at seven agencies on the North Olympic Peninsula.

The agencies, and the offices where help can be found:

Olympic Area Agency on Aging — 411 W. Washington St., Sequim, 360-452-3221; 481 Fifth Ave., Forks, 360-374-9496; and 915 Sheridan St., Port Townsend, 360-385-2552.

■ Volunteers in Medicine of the Olympics — 909 Georgiana St., Port Angeles, 360-457-4431.

■ Olympic Medical Center — 939 Caroline St., Port Angeles, 360-417-7000.

■ Jefferson Healthcare hospital — 834 Sheridan St., Port Townsend, 360-385-2200

■ Jefferson County Public Health Department — 615 Sheridan St., Port Townsend, 360-385-9400.

■ Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, Port Angeles Health Center— 426 E. Eighth St., Port Angeles; 800-230-7526.

■ Forks Community Hospital — 530 Bogachiel Way; 360-374-6271.

Some agencies may provide outreach and education before Oct. 1, when certified representatives can help people enroll in a health insurance plan that will begin Jan. 1 through the Washington Health Benefit Exchange.

In addition, information is available at www.wahbexchange.org, the Washington Health Benefit Exchange; by phone from the state at 855-923-4633 weekdays between 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; or you can send an email to customersupport@wahbexchange.org.

Last modified: September 09. 2013 12:31AM
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