On October 1, the federal government will move forward with the next stage of the Affordable Care Act. Throughout the country, on-line marketplaces will open up, offering detailed information on health care plans available to qualified customers. As the date approaches, the questions are already piling up: Will I qualify? How will the exchanges work? What choices will I have? What will my plan cover? And how much will I be expected to pay for health insurance?
The government attempted to address that final question this week when the Department of Health and Human Services released its most comprehensive report on health care plans and premiums. The report takes a look at some of the lowest-cost plans in each of the 36 states in which the federal government will take the lead in providing marketplace options, including Tennessee. It also puts those estimates in context with the 11 other states (and the District of Columbia) that are providing their own plans.
When the insurance marketplace goes live next week, the report estimates Tennesseans will start out paying one of the lowest average premiums in the country. Specifically, the average premium for someone in Tennessee purchasing the least expensive and least comprehensive plan (known as the Bronze Plan) is $181 per month. Only Minnesotans ($144) and Oklahomans ($174) are starting with a lower average. Wyomingites are expected to pay the highest rates, with average monthly premiums predicted at $425. The national average is $249 per month.
Analysts warn against reading too much into the report, because it contains basic estimates that don’t take into account the wide range of variables that will eventually affect pricing. Those include location, lifestyle, family size and the specifics of tax credits that will eventually be applied to customers who qualify for them.