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So Will Obamacare Cost You More or Less?


The state health insurance marketplaces as part of the Affordable Care Act open enrollment in just a few short days, but that hasn't stopped early - and contradictory - speculation about how much they will really cost Americans.

The state health insurance marketplaces as part of the Affordable Care Act open enrollment in just a few short days, but that hasn’t stopped early — and contradictory — speculation about how much they will really cost Americans.

For months, the Obama administration has been touting the lower rates that American can expect if they get their insurance through their state’s marketplace, just as opponents have cited early numbers showing that rates will go up.

Just last Tuesday, at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, President Barack Obama told former President Bill Clinton that, consistently, the reported rates were coming out lower than expected.

“We are confident that when people look and see they can get high quality affordable health care for less than their cell phone bill, they will sign up,” Obama said.

According to a new report from the Department of Health and Human Services, premium rates offered through state exchanges will be more than 16% lower than projected. The Congressional Budget Office had estimated that, on average, the silver plan (the second-lowest available) would cost $392 a month. And that is before factoring in tax credits.

After factoring in federal subsidies available, 56% of uninsured Americans could pay less than $100 per person per month, Becker’s Hospital Review reported.

However, at the same time, there have been plenty of reports showing that rates will increase in some states — that health care was going to be more unaffordable for some people.

The Manhattan Institute came out with a report earlier in September showing that most states are seeing rate hikes. While Colorado’s rates will decrease by 34%, New Mexico’s will increase by a staggering 130%.

One thing that cannot be disputed is that young, healthy Americans will experience “premium shock,” as Uwe E. Reinhardt wrote in The New York Times. They benefit from the current system, but under the ACA, they will be expected to help pay for the sicker members of society.

According to the Wall Street Journal, costs will skyrocket for a 27-year-old single male, for example. The bronze plan on the exchange will cost him $254 in Anchorage, Alaska, compared to the current lowest-cost premium of $79 — an increase of 222%. Or $190 compared to $31, currently, in Little Rock, Arkansas. New Hampshire has the best deal and even that has a reported increase of 25% — $149, currently, to $186. And Nebraska has the worst, a 523% jump from $26 to $162.

At the Clinton Global Initiative, Obama didn’t shy away from this fact. He pointed out that this is the way the new health insurance system will work.

“Those of us who are healthy, subsidize somebody who is sick at any given time, because we expect that one time we’ll be sick and a healthy person will help us,” Obama said. “The costs get spread.”

Lastly, the rollout of the exchanges won’t happen without some bumps. A huge part of the ACA is the subsidies people will get to help them pay for insurance—worth an average of $2,600 per year for families, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. The subsidies are available to anyone with income that is less than four times the poverty line, which New Republic says are individuals making up to $46,000 a year and families of four making $94,000 a year. That is a lot of Americans.

However, the District of Columbia has already said that its health exchange won’t have the function to calculate tax credits when the exchange opens on Oct. 1, according to Becker’s Hospital Review. Oregon’s state health insurance exchange also will not be fully accessible until at least mid-October even thought it launches on the first of the month.

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