Obamacare Will Give Free Health Insurance to Some

Tax subsidies will cover the complete cost of a bronze plan in some areas, HHS says.

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National Journal
Clara Ritger
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Clara Ritger
Sept. 25, 2013, 3:49 a.m.

Health in­sur­ance will be free for some Amer­ic­ans on the new Af­ford­able Care Act ex­changes, ac­cord­ing to a Health and Hu­man Ser­vices ana­lys­is re­leased Wed­nes­day on in­sur­ance costs.

The av­er­age premi­um works out to zero after the tax sub­sidy for a fam­ily of four earn­ing $50,000 a year on the low­est-cost bronze plan in Fair­fax County, Virg., Jack­son, Miss., and An­chor­age, Ala., the HHS said. That’s be­cause they will qual­i­fy for enough tax sub­sidies to cov­er the en­tire cost of the plan.

“Yes, people can get a zero premi­um bronze plan after the tax cred­it,” said Gary Co­hen, dir­ect­or of the Cen­ter for Con­sumer In­form­a­tion and In­sur­ance Over­sight at the Cen­ters for Medi­care and Medi­caid Ser­vices, who is re­spons­ible for im­ple­ment­ing the ex­changes.

The zero-dol­lar price tag also means that some fam­il­ies will pay less than in­di­vidu­als for cov­er­age.

“Be­cause premi­ums for older in­di­vidu­als and fam­il­ies are high­er than those for young­er in­di­vidu­als, tax cred­its are lar­ger for older in­di­vidu­als and fam­il­ies,” the re­port says. “There­fore, us­ing tax cred­its to pur­chase a bronze plan may yield lower bronze premi­ums for older in­di­vidu­als and fam­il­ies than for young­er in­di­vidu­als.”

It is un­clear how many fam­il­ies will be eli­gible for such a deal, and if there are oth­er in­come brack­ets that will also qual­i­fy. In Fair­fax County, Virg., for in­stance, a 27-year-old mak­ing $25,000 per year would pay $66 per month for the low­est cost bronze plan cov­er­age and that fam­ily of four mak­ing $50,000 would pay $282 per month if they chose to en­roll in second-low­est sil­ver plan cov­er­age, ac­cord­ing to the HHS re­port.

The study in­cludes new data from states with fed­er­ally-run ex­changes. Com­plete de­tails about premi­ums and plan of­fer­ings will be avail­able, Co­hen said, once the ex­changes open for en­roll­ment on Oct. 1.

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