Alabama marketplace rates slightly below average - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Alabama marketplace rates slightly below average

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The Department of Health and Human Services released a report Friday regarding Alabama's federally facilitated health insurance marketplace that launches next week. The report revealed the typical plan in Alabama will be slightly cheaper than the national average in most cases.

Below is the news release from HHS.

HHS announces significant choice and lower than expected premiums in the new Health Insurance Marketplace in Alabama

A new report released today by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) finds that in Alabama, consumers will see increased competition in the Health Insurance Marketplace, leading to new and affordable choices for consumers. According to the report, Alabama consumers will be able to choose from an average of 7 health plans in the Marketplace. Nationally, the vast majority of consumers will have a choice of at least 2 different health insurance companies - usually more. Premiums nationwide will also be around 16 percent lower than originally expected – with about 95 percent of eligible uninsured live in states with lower than expected premiums– before taking into account financial assistance.

"We are excited to see that rates in the Alabama Marketplace are even lower than originally projected," said Secretary Sebelius. "In the past, consumers were too often denied or priced-out of quality health insurance options, but thanks to the Affordable Care Act consumers will be able to choose from a number of new coverage options at a price that is affordable."

In less than a week, the new Marketplace will be open for business where millions ofAmericans will be able to shop for and purchase health insurance coverage in one place. Consumers will be able to find out whether they qualify for premium assistance and compare plans side-by-side based on pricing, quality and benefits. No one can be denied coverage because of a preexisting condition. October 1 marks the beginning of a six-month long open enrollment period that runs through March 2014. Coverage begins as early as January 1, or in as little as 100 days from today.

Today's report finds that individuals in Alabama will have an average of 7 qualified health plan choices. Plans in the Marketplace will be categorized as either "gold," "silver," or "bronze." Young adults will also have the option of purchasing a "catastrophic" plan, increasing their number of choices.

In Alabama, the average premium for the lowest-cost silver plan will be $303 and for the lowest cost bronze plan it will be $247. The average premium nationally for the second lowest cost silver plan will be $328 before tax credits, or 16 percent below projections based off of Congressional Budget Office estimates. About 95 percent of uninsured people eligible for the Marketplace live in a state where their average premium is lower than projections. And states with the lowest premiums have more than twice the number of insurance companies offering plans than states with the highest premiums.

Premium and plan options are broken down by state where information is available. For example, the report shows that a 27-year old living in Alabama who makes $25,000 per year will pay $98 per month for the lowest cost bronze plan and $145 per month for the second lowest cost silver plan, taking into account tax credits. For a family of four in Alabama with an income of $50,000 per year, the lowest bronze plan would cost only $112 per month.

In Birmingham, AL, a 27-year old who makes $25,000 per year will pay $104 per month for the lowest cost bronze plan and $145 per month for the second lowest cost silver plan, taking into account tax credits. For a family of four in Birmingham, AL with an income of $50,000 per year, the lowest bronze plan would cost only $134 per month. And Birmingham consumers will be able to choose from among 10 qualified health plans.

The majority (around 6 out of 10) of the individuals who are uninsured today will be able to find coverage for $100 or less per month in the Marketplace taking into account premium tax credits and Medicaid coverage.

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