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States offer an early look at health law's premiums

The No. 1 question about President Barack Obama's health care law is whether consumers will be able to afford the coverage. Now the answer is coming in.
By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR Modified: September 4, 2013 at 10:32 pm •  Published: September 5, 2013
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The No. 1 question about President Barack 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 midrange 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 midrange plan will average close to $330, 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. At the same time, insurance companies will no longer be able to turn away people in poor health.

The study points to the emergence of a competitive market, said lead author Caroline Pearson, a vice president of the private data analysis firm. But it's a market with big price differences among age groups, states and even within states. A copy was provided to The Associated Press.

The bottom line is mixed: Many consumers will like their new options, particularly if they qualify for a tax credit. But others may have to stretch to afford coverage.

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