By Jerry Geisel, Crain News Service
WASHINGTON (Feb. 10, 2015) — Individuals eligible for healthcare reform law premium subsidies paid, on average, just $105 a month for coverage purchased through federal health insurance exchanges, according to a report released Feb. 9.
Without those subsidies — available to uninsured individuals with incomes between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level — the average monthly premium would have been $374, according to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) report. It examined plans and costs in the 37 states, such as Texas and Florida, in which HHS operates the exchanges after those states declined to do so.
In all, 53 percent of enrollees selected coverage during the 2015 open enrollment season in which they paid — after federal subsidies — a monthly premium of less than $100, while 31 percent of enrollees opted for a plan that cost them $50 or less per month after the subsidy.
Eighty-seven percent of the nearly 7.5 million people who opted for coverage in the federal exchange from Nov. 15 through Jan. 30 used a premium subsidy to fully or partially offset the cost of coverage, according to the HHS report.
Among the 37 states, the biggest percentage reduction in premiums by those selecting coverage who were eligible for federal premium subsidies was in Mississippi. In that state, the average premium of coverage selected through the exchange was $411 a month. On average, enrollees were eligible for a federal premium subsidy of $364 a month, which brought the monthly premium down to $47 a month, a reduction of 89 percent.
Federal exchange enrollees in Alaska had the biggest dollar reduction in the premiums they paid after the application of the federal subsidy. Alaska enrollees selected plans with an average monthly premium of $652. On average, enrollees received a monthly subsidy of $534, which brought down the premium they paid for coverage to $119 a month.
Those premium subsidies, though, are at stake in a lawsuit before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Plaintiffs argue that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act only permits premium subsidies in states that have set up their own exchanges. So, far, just 13 states, plus the District of Columbia, have established exchanges.
This report appeared on the website of Crain's Business Insurance magazine, a Chicago-based sister publication of Tire Business.