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Kaiser study finds ObamaCare premiums “lower than expected”

Kaiser_Family_Foundation

The nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, a leading health policy research organization, reported “lower than expected” premiums for ObamaCare’s new insurance exchanges in a major study released last week.

With open enrollment in new insurance marketplaces set to begin Oct. 1, the Foundation compiled premium data from the new marketplaces in the 17 states where it is fully available and released a variety of figures showing how much consumers will pay if they choose to purchase coverage individually.  Last week, they publicly released comprehensive data about their rates and the impact of tax credits that will offset part of the costs for low- and moderate-income families.

The study is among the first to show in detail what a variety of exchange-based health plans will cost people of different ages and incomes under ObamaCare — a major source of debate between supporters and opponents of the law. Kaiser researchers looked specifically at states’ largest cities, plus the District of Columbia, and how much young adults, families of four and older couples will have to pay for nonemployer-based health coverage in those areas.
In Baltimore, for example, a 25-year-old will pay $179 per month for the second lowest cost “silver” plan and $115 per month for the cheapest available option, the lowest cost “bronze” plan. Those monthly premiums drop to $144 and $80, respectively, when researchers assumed that the 25-year-old was eligible for a tax credit based on an income of $25,000 per year.

For a family of four, including two 40-year-old adults, the monthly premium for the second lowest cost “silver” plan would be $683, or $409 with a tax credit based on an income of $60,000. For the lowest cost “bronze” plan, the family would pay $437 monthly or $164 with the tax credit factored in.

Overall, a single 40-year-old who is eligible for ObamaCare’s tax credit could pay a minimum of $97 per month for health coverage in Hartford, Conn., or a maximum of $168 per month in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Researchers with Kaiser wrote that “while premiums will vary significantly across the country, they are generally lower than expected.”

The study did not seek to compare expected premium prices under ObamaCare to current prices on the individual market but stated that 15 of the 18 areas examined had premiums below the level most recently projected by the Congressional Budget Office.

“We estimate that the latest projections from the Congressional Budget Office imply that the premium for a 40-year-old in the second lowest cost silver plan would average $320 per month nationally,” researchers wrote. “Fifteen of the eighteen rating areas we examined have premiums below this level, suggesting that the cost of coverage for consumers and the federal budgetary cost for tax credits will be lower than anticipated.”

ObamaCare requires most people to carry health insurance or face a fine starting in 2014.  While most people receive coverage through their jobs or a federal program like Medicare, some will have to purchase insurance through the new marketplaces, which open for enrollment on Oct. 1. The full premium costs for every state exchange will be available on that date.

This article can be found at TheHill.com

More articles on the Kaiser study:
Marketplace.org
ThinkProgress.org

Obama Administration Launches One-Stop-Shop Website to Educate Business Owners About the Affordable Care Act

Affordable-Helath-Care-Act-Weight-Loss-Surgery

WASHINGTON – The Obama Administration today launched Business.USA.gov/healthcare, a one-stop-shop Website which will provide employers of all sizes educational materials on how the Affordable Care Act may affect businesses and help them compete.  The site includes a wizard tool that is tailored based on size and location, so businesses can learn how the law helps them provide affordable coverage options to their employees while still meeting their bottom line.  The site will act as a user-friendly hub that connects employers to informational content on tax credits and other provisions of the law from the Small Business Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the Treasury Department.

As part of the Administration’s ongoing dialogue with leaders of our nation’s top businesses, this latest tool will help ensure that employers of all sizes know what the Affordable Care Act means for them, and have the information they need to take advantage of the new benefits and opportunities under the law. The Administration will work with the employer community to ensure the site continues to be a helpful resource for businesses and their employees, including updating the site with additional, timely information.

As the Affordable Care Act is implemented, it is so important for us to work with the business community and provide employers with the information they need,” said U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. “The health care website on Business.USA.gov/healthcare will be a tremendous resource for self-employed Americans and businesses of all sizes to learn what the Affordable Care Act means for them.”

“The Affordable Care Act helps level the playing field for small businesses, expanding their bargaining power and their ability to offer the kind of valuable benefit packages that attract and retain top-quality workers. Small businesses are a cornerstone of our economy and we are committed to working with them to raise awareness and access to the historic tax credits that can help small businesses and employees cover the cost of health care,” said Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew.

“It’s important for small business owners to know the facts about the Affordable Care Act and Business.USA.gov/healthcare delivers resources and need-to-know information through one streamlined tool,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills. “This Website will prove to be an invaluable resource for small employers to learn how the law is ushering in better options for them and their employees.”

“The Affordable Care Act is providing better care and better choices for millions of Americans, and this is another great tool for employers to learn how they can offer health coverage that makes sense for their business and employees, and works for their bottom line,” said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Many parts of the Affordable Care Act, which was signed into law in March, 2010, are already in effect, including new consumer protections, and improvements to health care coverage that ensure consumers get more value for their premium dollars.

Additional benefits will take effect in late 2013 and beyond.  Starting October 1, 2013, individuals, including those who are self-employed, and small businesses looking for a better plan, will have a new way to shop for private health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace and the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) found at HealthCare.gov.   Individuals may be eligible for lower costs on their monthly premiums and self-employed individuals and small businesses may be eligible for tax credits to help with the costs of coverage.

President Obama issued a challenge to government agencies to think beyond their organizational boundaries in the best interest of serving America’s business community, and start thinking and acting more like the businesses they serve. He directed the creation of BusinessUSA.gov, a centralized platform to make it easier than ever for businesses to access services to help them grow and hire.  BusinessUSA.gov leverages the resources of our partners across the federal government to ensure that business owners get comprehensive information and easy-to-use tools related to range of topics, including health care. To learn more, please visit Business.USA.gov.

19 SC Health Centers receive grants from Obama Administration for insurance enrollment assistance

health-insuranceOn July 10, 2013, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced $150 million in grant awards to 1,159 health centers across the nation (19 of which are in South Carolina) to enroll uninsured Americans in new health coverage options made available by the Affordable Care Act. With these funds, health centers are expected to hire an additional 2,900 outreach and eligibility assistance workers to assist millions of people nationwide with enrollment into affordable health coverage.

Health centers have a long history of providing eligibility assistance to patients along with delivering high-quality, primary health care services in communities across the nation.  Today, health centers serve more than 21 million patients annually. With these awards, which health centers in all 50 states have received, consumers will get help understanding their coverage options through the new Health Insurance Marketplace, Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program; determine their eligibility and what financial help they can get; and enroll in new affordable health coverage options.

19 Health Centers Receiving Awards in South Carolina:

Health Center City Award Amount
BEAUFORT-JASPER-HAMPTON COMPREHENSIVE HEALTH SERVICES, INCORPORATED Ridgeland $144,514
CARE SOUTH CAROLINA INC Hartsville $208,457
CAROLINA HEALTH CENTERS, INC. Greenwood $125,142
COMMUNITY MEDICINE FOUNDATION, INC. Rock Hill $98,435
EAU CLAIRE COOPERATIVE HEALTH CENTER Columbia $194,718
FAMILY HEALTH CENTERS, INC. Orangeburg $124,571
FOOTHILLS COMMUNITY HEALTH CARE, INC. Clemson $59,000
FRANKLIN C FETTER FAMILY HEALTH CENTER INC Charleston $167,009
HEALTH CARE PARTNERS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, INC. Conway $83,805
HOPEHEALTH INC Florence $155,899
LITTLE RIVER MEDICAL CENTER, INC. Little River $185,951
LOW COUNTRY HEALTH CARE SYSTEM INC Fairfax $99,040
NEW HORIZON FAMILY HEALTH SERVICES, INC Greenville $184,741
REGENESIS ORGANIZATION COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTER Spartanburg $98,556
RURAL HEALTH SERVICES INC Clearwater $100,613
SANDHILLS MEDICAL FOUNDATION McBee $88,062
SOUTH CAROLINA PRIMARY HEALTH CARE ASSOCIATION Columbia $76,061
ST JAMES SANTEE FAMILY HEALTH CENTER INC McClellanville $90,031
SUMTER FAMILY HEALTH CENTER

These awards, issued by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), complement and aligns with other federal efforts, such as the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services-funded Navigator program.

Today’s announcement is part of the administration’s larger effort to make applying for health coverage as easy as possible. The new, consumer-focused HealthCare.gov website and the 24-hour-a-day consumer call center help Americans prepare for open enrollment and ultimately sign up for health coverage.  These new tools will help Americans understand their coverage options and select the plan that best suits their needs when open enrollment in the new Health Insurance Marketplace begins October 1, 2013.

“Health centers are excited to help individuals in their communities  take advantage of the benefits of new health insurance coverage options that start in January, 2014,” said HRSA Administrator Mary Wakefield, Ph.D, R.N. “Having trained, face-to-face assistance in enrollment from trusted resources at local health centers means that more individuals will get the help they need.”

For a list of health centers receiving this funding, visit: http://www.hrsa.gov/about/news/2013tables/outreachandenrollment/.

To learn more about the Affordable Care Act, visit www.HealthCare.gov.  To learn more about HRSA’s Health Center Program, visit http://bphc.hrsa.gov/about/index.html.

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