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Analysis: Most marketplace premiums cheaper than canceled policies


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Are people with canceled insurance policies better off in the Obamacare marketplaces? The answer is mostly yes, according to a new analysis by the Urban Institute.

"It is difficult to directly obtain data on premiums that individuals were paying prior to the ACA, but we can provide data on the premium cost to enrollees for the lowest cost bronze plans and the second lowest cost silver plans by age and income group in each state," the analysis said. "We conclude that it would be difficult for the majority of individuals, particularly those qualifying for subsidies, to obtain coverage for a lower premium than those available in the Marketplaces today. Unsubsidized individuals, particularly those in older age groups, are more likely to face higher premiums."

The analysis quoted the 2011 Medical Expenditure Panel Survey Household Component estimate of the national average nongroup insurance premium for a single adult at $3,097, or $258 per month -- applying the typical 5 percent per year increase in per capita private health insurance expenditures takes those numbers to $3,585 per year and $299 per month for 2014.

By contrast, it said, the average single premium costs for bronze plan coverage through in Pennsylvania are as follows:

AgeSubsidized (up to 400% of poverty level)Unsubsidized
19-34up to $137$142
35-54up to $187$229
55-64up to $206$381

According to the analysis, those not eligible for subsidies represented about two-thirds of the 2013 nongroup market and face the following national average premiums on the 2014 marketplaces:

AgeSecond-lowest-cost silver plan monthly premiumLeast expensive bronze plan monthly premium

"In addition," the analysis concluded, "the President's decision to make those with canceled policies eligible for ACA compliant catastrophic plans implies that premiums even lower than those shown here for bronze level coverage will be available to those individuals seeking alternatives."

Heather Stauffer

Heather Stauffer

Heather Stauffer covers Lancaster County, nonprofits, education and health care. Have a tip or question for her? Email her at Follow her on Twitter, @StaufferCPBJ.



Heather Stauffer said:
I figured this one might draw comments -- looks as if I was right on that. You're all correct that premiums are just part of the equation, and that deductibles and networks and other plan details this doesn't address are also quite significant. I wrote about this report because I don't recall seeing anything else that had a national comparison of Marketplace premiums to the pre-Obamacare average. But, as always, every story on this complex issue should be read in its larger context.

January 29, 2014 11:04 am

Deb C. said:
If you believe this article, I've got a couple of bridges for sale....

January 28, 2014 4:57 pm

JGC said:
There should be a disclaimer on this article that declares it to be a "Paid Political Announcement". In addition to what has already been said I would call attention to the fact that most amounts are "National Averages" which are not real premiums any where.

January 28, 2014 4:51 pm

Maureen K said:
This "analysis" is not surprising considering the source "Urban Institute". It would be better to offer some balance to the discussion. KEF's observation is dead on! Since most readers don't bother to delve into the details, headlines tend to unduly influence opinions.

January 28, 2014 12:54 pm

KEF said:
Come on Heather... nothing like an inaccurate headline... how about using "Unsubsidized individuals, particularly those in older age groups, are more likely to face higher premiums". Oh and those same unsubsidized individuals get to pay higher taxes to cover the premiums on the subsidized plans.

January 28, 2014 12:23 pm

KCT said:
Premiums are cheaper, but out of pocket expensed are 3-4 times more. I am having my policy cancelled. - just another government shell game.

January 28, 2014 12:04 pm

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