October 23, 2013

What Will the Affordable Care Act Cost Consumers?

What Will the Affordable Care Act Cost Consumers?

Now that the Affordable Care Act is law, Florida’s federally run health exchange, which is scheduled to launch Oct. 1, is becoming the topic of much discussion. Florida state insurance officials are predicting that health insurance rates will rise 5 to 20 percent for small businesses and 30 to 40 percent in the individual market. But while premiums are expected to be higher on average, after tax credits, most people could end up paying less.

These numbers, however, are based on ‘hypothetical’ health plans that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have not yet approved. This means that the plans and the pricing could still change as has happened in other states. How many people take advantage of these health exchanges – and how many avoid them – may also affect the long-term equilibrium of the Affordable Care Act.

As things stand now, coverage sold on the individual market will extend some significant benefits to the health insurance consumer. Insurers can no longer turn away people with preexisting medical conditions and are limited in what they can charge older policy holders. Consumers’ financial exposure will be capped, and insurers are also required to offer specific, upgraded benefits under the plans. However, many believe there will be low-cost, highdeductible plans as an alternative. Consumers may view this as a good choice, but it could have negative economic consequences if a family experiences a high-cost illness.

Florida residents making less than $48,000 a year will receive a voucher from the federal government to help offset premium costs and the less a person makes, the more the government will pay. Those residents who do not have health insurance from their employer, and who do not purchase health insurance through the online exchanges, will pay roughly a $100 penalty next year.

With such big changes coming down the line, it’s not surprising that in a study by Enroll America, a nonprofit group sponsoring a national education campaign, 78 percent of uninsured adults don’t know about or understand what health insurance options will be available to them in 2014. Even those on both side of the political aisle, and those on the state and federal levels, can’t agree on how much health insurance will cost, or if residents will embrace health care reform. With so many issues left to be decided, it’s advisable to work with experts in the field who are keeping abreast of all of the changes.

Source – South Florida Hospital News and Healthcare Report

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