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Health Care Reform:

Health Insurance & Affordable Care Act

Premiums Under Obamacare Run the Gamut

2. Premiums vary depending on where you live.

"There will be some variation across states, because the [current] insurance markets vary so much," says Benjamin Sommers, MD, PhD. He is an assistant professor of health policy and economics at Harvard School of Public Health. "In states that have traditionally had very bare-bones health insurance offerings in the individual market, premiums will go up more because they're going to be offering a much more comprehensive product."

Other states, though, had different types of regulations in place and will actually see lower premiums. New York is one, Sommers says. "But as with anything related to this health care law, politics is playing an enormous role -- both in what numbers get reported and how people interpret those numbers."

Wherever you live, Marketplace policies allow some people to get cost breaks based on their income. For example, a person making up to about $45,000 -- or a family of four making up to about $94,000 -- may be eligible for lower costs.

3. Only a few states have released premium details so far.

Preliminary or final information about Marketplace premiums is available in Washington, D.C. and these states: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Maryland, Montana, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and Washington.

The states and the federal government, which will run the Marketplaces in some states, must make final rates public by Oct. 1.

Here are some sample premiums (although people who qualify for tax credits will pay less):

  • In the Portland, Ore., area, preliminary monthly premiums for single, nonsmoking 21-year-olds range from $132 to $440, depending on how much coverage a person wants. For 60-year-olds, the range is from $359 to $1,255.
  • In Maryland's Montgomery County, a suburb of Washington D.C., a 50-year-old nonsmoker will pay $263 to $470 a month for a mid-level silver plan.
  • Nonsmoking Maine residents aged 30 who get the mid-level silver plan will pay monthly premiums ranging from $252 to $400.

4. Information about premiums may be misleading.

Premiums for 2014 may cause sticker shock in some people, especially those who already pay for cheaper coverage. But premiums don't tell the whole story, Blumberg says.

For example, the premiums for healthy young men may seem high compared to current premiums, she says. But insurance policies available after Jan. 1 must provide more coverage than many of those available now.

"It's important to ask questions about how the comparison is being made when we hear premiums that sound extreme," she says. "Reasonable premium levels are being seen in the states where we have information so far."

But "there are some outliers," she says.

Not everyone shares Blumberg's view that premiums are generally reasonable.

Tom Miller, JD, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a D.C. think tank, says some people, like those under 30 and even aged 30-39, will see increases.

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