The Kaiser Family Foundation surveyed 17 states and found lower than expected rates, as affordable as $62 a month for a 25 year-old New Yorker with a $25,000 income, to almost nothing for the same person in Vermont. They looked at both the bare-bones "Bronze" plans and the next level "Silver" plans, and found rates completely in line with current premiums and often lower, when subsidies are factored in.
“There’s obviously intense interest in what the choices are going to look like for consumers and what they’re going to have to pay in 2014,” Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at Menlo Park, California-based Kaiser, said in a phone interview. “For the most part insurers seem to find this market attractive and they’re pricing accordingly.” [...]The whole idea behind the health insurance exchanges was that competition in the marketplace would do what it's always done, force companies to provide their best price to consumers. Early reports out of Oregon and California hinted at this trend. With more and more states reporting rates as October 1, the target date for the launch of the nation's insurance shopping spree nears, the trend is bearing out.
The lowest monthly premium for a 40-year-old in the 17 states surveyed by Kaiser would be $146 in Baltimore. If that 40-year-old had an annual income of $29,000, government subsidies would reduce the monthly cost to $111, according to the report from the nonprofit health-research group. [...]
For $214 a month, the same Baltimore 40-year-old may upgrade to a “silver” plan that covers about 70 percent of medical costs and reduced out-of-pocket expenses. A $35 monthly subsidy would discount the premium to $179.
The highest premiums in the Kaiser survey are in Vermont and New York, where the states require insurers to charge the same amount to people of all ages. That helps older people, who get a break on their premiums, at the expense of younger people, who pay more.
But Republicans should find some solace in the news. It does, after all, demonstrate that the market is operating just like it's supposed to. Capitalism lives, and the health insurance companies sure aren't bemoaning the fact that they'll have lots of new customers as of January 1.