Way back in 2009, when the CBO was estimating how much people were going to pay for health insurance in the soon-to-be-created exchanges, they gave a pretty startling number: $433 a month per person, on average, for a silver plan.
A lot of studies looked similar, and critics started talking about "sticker shock" once the law was implemented. The Affordable Care Act would be forcing people to get expensive insurance that they can not pay, and so on.
Well, we are starting to see the exchanges come to life, and it turns out that the premiums are coming much lower than everyone expected. California just published the list of plans and premiums from their (gigantic) exchange, and the cheapest silver plan for a 40 year old male costs $276 a month, or a 63% of the expected cost. This premiums would be for unsubsidized plans; for individuals below 400% the Federal Poverty line, the costs would be actually much lower (in grey, the subsidy amount):
¿Surprising? Well, sometimes it turns out that legislation does work as intended; a big pool of potential clients, plus standardized, comparable plans, plus plenty of competition between insurance companies translates into pretty affordable prices. Admittedly California is a huge market with more than seven million uninsured and their exchange have pretty detailed cost-control regulations, but the basic structure of Obamacare is sound, so it is not surprising that it might just deliver.
The most important bit of this prices, by the way, are not the premiums for forty-somethings; the success of the law lies in convincing low risk, young patients to enroll instead of paying the penalty. The premiums on that end are pretty affordable, all things considered. Here we have the cheapest bronze (less generous) plans:
Again, not too bad, and the subsidies make a huge difference. This legislation might just work as promised. And that´s very good news. The rates so far in Connecticut don´t look terrible, but we haven´t seen the insurance carriers competing yet. We´ll see.
Thanks to the ACA, kids with pre-existing conditions like diabetes and asthma can no longer be denied the care they need. In fact, children all over Connecticut are already getting preventive care like immunizations without out-of-pocket costs, which helps them avoid illness and helps the state avoid unnecessary health care costs later on.
Many of our college-goers are also better off now that they can stay on their parents’ policy until age 26. If your child is still occupying their old room and has fallen victim to the poor job market post-grad, this provision is either a relief or one more reason they have yet to move out.
If federal and state leaders continue to make the right choices, kids will see even more wins in a few years. They’ll be protected against lifetime caps on coverage or benefits, so if a child beats leukemia at age eight, she will still be able to get the care she needs if it relapses at twenty. Plus, her parents will have better choices for affordable, quality care. See, parents win, too.
Millions of children will get the care they need through the ACA. So, yes, let’s debate the pros and cons. But let’s also challenge those who oppose the law to offer alternatives that ensure kids really get the care they need. Thanks to First Focus for helping us all get the word out.