Consumers across America are preparing for hikes in their health insurance premiums under the Affordable Care Act. For some people government subsidies will counter the price hike and for customers who already have insurance can shop for better deals.
Joens of St. George - Utah, said that he and his wife were facing an 18% hike in premiums in the coming year, so he is looking for a plan with lower premiums and a higher deductible. He is in his 50's and semi retired.
Advertisement"It's not a major hardship," he said. "But I still have some years until I am on Medicare. My worry is by the time I'm 65, who knows where this will be?" Overall, he said he's been very satisfied with his "gold" plan this year.
"How all this shakes out will depend on one big wild card," said Larry Levitt of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. "Will current enrollees become savvy shoppers or just sit back and stay in their current plans? This is a new program with no precedent, so there's no way to predict exactly what will happen."
This time the administration had not released its own analysis, only giving out the data which independent experts worked on. The analysts focused on 'silver plans' which fall a little below the employer sponsored coverage. There are 4 levels in plans - the platinum, gold, silver and bronze. According to a study by Avalere Health the lowest costing silver plan would also be up by 10% on an average.
A Kaiser Foundation study found that the premiums in the silver plan could increase in 59% counties and decrease in 34%. 18 counties would see a 10% increase and 7% would remain the same. It depended on what the insurer would have bid for - so it was best to shop around for the best options.
The employer sponsored plans, which cover about 150 million people is the biggest chunk of the health insurance market. Costs in these plans are usually more contained but a rise of 4.6% is expected.
Levitt felt even so consumers would be able to find some low cost plans, "In some places, premiums are actually going down, which is almost unheard of in health insurance," he said.
Robert Glenn of Charleston, South Carolina actually saw a drop of $17 for his gold plan. He found he could save more money by picking the silver plan and save $104.
"I see the forces of capitalism and competition working this year," said Glenn, a psychiatrist in his early 30s who's an independent contractor. "I know I am just but one of millions of people affected ... but 'Obamacare' is working for me."
The Kaiser Foundation analysis found wide differences from state to state and at times within the state also. Alaska and Minnesota had the highest increases and most counties in Georgia had decreases. Florida and Texas were found to be on the higher side.
Reference: Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar
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