As Sen. Ted Cruz argued overnight Tuesday in an effort to defund Obamacare, federal officials gave the public its first glimpse into the premium rates for the health insurance marketplace. That glimpse revealed lower than expected rates for Texans, and all Americans.
According to the report, consumers will be able to choose from an average of 53 health plans, and the vast majority of consumers will have a choice of at least two different health insurance companies. Premiums nationwide will also be around 16 percent lower than originally expected. Texas will have comparatively low rates, lower than all but 14 states. The average monthly rate for a standard plan in the 48 states analyzed in the report was $328, while Texas’ was $305.
“We are excited to see that rates in the Marketplace are even lower than originally projected,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said. “In the past, consumers were too often denied or priced-out of quality health insurance options, but thanks to the Affordable Care Act consumers will be able to choose from a number of new coverage options at a price that is affordable.”
Texans will have on average 54 health plan options available from the marketplace, a number that varies per region. Purchasers in Dallas-Fort Worth, for example, will have 43 qualified health plan choices, while those in San Antonio and Austin would have 58 and 76, respectively. In the Rio Grande Valley, that number drops to 30. Qualified health plans include four types of plans: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. In general, bronze plans will have lower monthly premiums but higher out-of-pocket costs, while platinum plans will have the highest monthly premiums but lower out-of-pocket costs.
The HHS report found that the average premium nationally for the second lowest cost silver plan will be $328 before tax credits, or 16 percent below projections based off of Congressional Budget Office estimates. About 95 percent of uninsured people eligible for the Marketplace live in a state where their average premium is lower than projections.
A 27-year old living in Dallas who makes $25,000 per year will pay $74 per month for the lowest cost bronze plan and $139 per month for the lowest cost silver plan, taking into account tax credits. And he or she will be able to choose from among 43 qualified health plans. For a family of four in Dallas with an income of $50,000 per year, the lowest bronze plan would cost only $26 per month, taking into account tax credits.
All of this information was released as Cruz stood on the Senate floor, arguing that healthcare premiums were expected to rise, and that the Affordable Care Act would kill the working class.
“You could not design a law to do more damage to young people than Obamacare if you sat down and tried,” he said at one point, echoing sentiments he expressed during a “Defund Obamacare” rally in Dallas last month.
The feds have created a handy tool to help possible marketplace purchasers determine their average rates. And here’s a breakdown of the premium rates for major Texas regions:
|Region||27-year-old, $25K annual income||Family of four, $50K annual income|
|Monthly Premium: 2nd-Lowest-Price Silver Plan||Monthly Premium: Lowest-Price Bronze Plan||Monthly Premium: 2nd-Lowest-Price Silver Plan||Monthly Premium: Lowest-Price Bronze Plan|
|Before Tax Credits||After Tax Credits||After Tax Credits||Before Tax Credits||After Tax Credits||After Tax Credits|
(h/t Texas Tribune for the chart)