Feds Release Some Cost Data About Health Insurance On Exchanges

Sep 25, 2013

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says the cost for purchasing insurance on federal exchanges is coming in lower than expected.

Florida is one of more than 30 states where consumers can use the federal exchanges, but there are several caveats within HHS’ report.

Floridians are expected to be able to choose from more than a hundred different plans on the federal marketplace. Some regions of the state, such as Miami, will have more offerings, and others less.  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says the average cost of a health insurance plan on the federal exchange will come in around $300 a month. That’s BEFORE federal insurance subsidies kick in and help lower the out-of-pocket cost. That figure is also based on the premise consumers will purchase less-expensive, mid-level coverage—known as a silver plan -- on the federal exchanges. In a conference call with reporters, the Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius touted the cost savings:

“Across the board, 6 out of 10 Americans will be able to find coverage for less than $100 a month. In many cases, premiums will cost significantly less than originally projected," she said.

But when Florida officials ran the numbers based on ALL silver plans to be sold, they came up with a number that was about twice as much.

Cost differences also vary according to region and the group of people seeking coverage. Take Miami-Dade County, for example. There are more than 130 different plans that can be sold, and a 27-year-old making $25,000 a year can expect to pay, on average, about $87 a month for the lowest cost plan available. However, a family of four with an income of $50,000  fares better: they’d pay about $72 a month for the same plan. And that speaks to a big concern raised with the exchanges: Will young people sign up, when they will be charged more?

“As with all insurance issues, there are different rates based on different models," says Damien Filer, political director for the advocacy group Progress Florida. He says there’s a bigger picture: "I think the broader issue here is that we see a trend line moving in a positive direction for people in Florida of all ages who are going to have an opportunity to access to health coverage that they’ve never had before.” 

While the average insurance premium for Florida plans on the exchanges is coming in lower than expected, the price to the consumer will still be more than what most employees of Florida companies pay. Insurance exchanges open October first for business, and tax subsidies will be available for a wide range of income levels. The exchanges are also open to people who don’t qualify for subsidies. For those purchasing insurance for the first time, there may be some sticker shock. For others, there could be some savings. It just depends on who you are, what you make, and where you live.