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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 healthcare.gov 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."

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