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$100 Health Insurance Possible For Millions Of Americans

10:31 PM, Sep 23, 2013   |    comments
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GREENSBORO - Millions of Americans will be eligible to buy insurance for $100 or less through the insurance exchange because of tax subsidies, according to a report released by the Department of Health and Human Services.

WFMY News 2's news partner USA Today saw the first copy.

READ: For Millions of Americans, Insurance Will Cost $100/Month

Kelly Kennedy, USA Today reporter says, "The federal rates aren't out yet, we don't know what the premiums are going to cost through the medical exchanges or many of the state exchanges, but they were still able to figure out how much people would have to pay or not have to pay based on their income levels so they used census data to figure it out."

Tax subsidies will drive down the insurance costs for about 6.4 million people, including Greensboro resident, Tommy Giles.

Giles doesn't have health insurance because he says it's too expensive. He says the rates he's been offered for his family are close to $1,000 a month, but after applying these possible subsidies, his rate dropped to $350.

"This is a lot better," explained Giles.

Mervyn Halley is self-employed and uninsured.

"It told me that my estimated silver-plan premium would be $108 - which is not bad."

The rate Halley found through a subsidy calculator is about $400 less than what an insurance company quoted him.

Halley says although low, he doesn't know if he will buy coverage. He says it might be cheaper for him just to pay the penalty instead of the premium.

That's a decision Dr. Eric Ford from the University of Carolina-Greensboro predicts customers will make.

"They made many powerful assumptions. The first is that there will be full-participation. For many people, opting out and simply paying a relatively small fine, a couple hundred dollars a year, will be more affordable than buying the high-deductible plan," explained Ford.

He added, "It's a very, very optimistic estimate and it only applies to a very narrow band of people who are right at the cusp of being Medicaid eligible, versus not being Medicaid eligible."

Ford says the rates promise too much for too little. He thinks, "we are going to see is much higher rates with a more moderated coverage amount."

He says the study is optimistic, but that might be intentional. The rates could encourage more people to enter the exchange if they think they'll get a good deal.

"It is a very complicated topic. There are a lot of unexpected things that are going to happen."

This $100 rate would be for people who chose the silver plan, a mid-grade insurance option. Those plans typically cover wellness checks, prescriptions, and have a $2,000 deductible.

There will be more expensive and less expensive plans available in the exchange.

People living in North Carolina will have to buy insurance in the national exchange because our state lawmakers decided not to expand Medicaid.

These subsidies are available to people who make less than 400% of the poverty level. For example, a family of 4 making $94,200 a year could qualify.

Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina is participating in the insurance exchange when it opens October first. They'll offer 26 plans ranging in price from $145 to nearly $600.

Coventry will also participate in the exchange. FirstCarolinaCare was scheduled to participate but dropped out, earlier this month.

To learn more about the exchange and what subsidies you might be eligible for, click here.

To calculate your possible subsidies, click here

To read the HHS report, click here.

WFMY News 2, USA Today

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