Miami -- Florida residents are finally getting to see
what so-called "Obamacare" means for them as state insurance officials
released rate details late Wednesday showing how much some health plans
may cost under the new federal health law.
details come one day after Florida Health Commissioner Kevin McCarty
said rates will rise an average of 5 to 20 percent for small businesses
and 30 to 40 percent in the individual market. But he countered that
those increases are partly due to the fact that consumers will receive
more benefits, and the higher costs will be offset by federal subsidies
in many cases.
Most of the state's roughly 3.5 million uninsured residents will not see extreme price hikes, McCarty said.
said the new insurance plans will be more comprehensive, making direct
comparisons to existing plans impossible, but the Florida Office of
Insurance Regulation based its comparison on the average cost of
premiums for midlevel plans from 11 insurers.
smallest increase was an HMO plan from Humana that bumped up 7 percent
from $293 to $315. The largest was 59 percent from a Sunshine State
Health plan that jumped from $293 to $464.
of the state's largest health insurers, including Florida Blue, Cigna,
Humana and Aetna, will be among 11 plans competing through the state's
new health exchange in the individual market in all 67 counties. Many
counties will be able to choose from six or seven carriers. But Bay,
Franklin, Glades, Jefferson and Madison were among the 20 counties where
consumers willhave one option.
of competition from insurers under the health care law has raised
concerns in some states. President Barack Obama told Democrats
administration is working to fix the problem.
Aside from where a person lives, insurers are limited in their ability to charge consumers different prices for health care.
So how will the new federal health law change insurance benefits and prices for average consumers?
of Jan. 1, insurers can no longer turn away the more than 7.8 million
non-elderly Floridians with pre-existing medical conditions, according
to federal health officials. Insurers will be limited in what they can
charge to older policy holders and out-of-pocket expenses will have an
annual cap. Some Florida insurers currently offer skimpy benefit plans
at cheap rates for catastrophic coverage, but those types of plans will
no longer be allowed under the federal health law.
Additionally, residents making less than $48,000 a year will receive a
federal voucher to help offset premium costs. The less a person makes,
the more the government will pay.
marketplaces, which are open for enrollment Oct. 1, will have the feel
of an online travel site where individuals, families and small
businesses can compare different private insurance plans. Consumers will
be able to choose from bronze, silver, gold, platinum and catastrophic
plans that offer a range of premiums, deductibles and co-pays. Insurers
are offering 308 plans through the exchange in Florida, according to
state insurance officials.
will have to have health insurance from their employer or purchase it,
and will pay a roughly $100 penalty next year if they don't. Anyone
making below the poverty line won't be eligible to buy insurance through
the online marketplace. Federal health officials anticipate roughly 1
million Floridians will fall into a gap where they can't get health
insurance because the state rejected Medicaid expansion.
health officials said the health care law will provide better options,
better value, better health and a stronger Medicare program for
Floridians. In many states, they said rates have turned out to be lower
than previous estimates.
insurance commission warned that enticing young healthy adults to buy
insurance was also a significant concern. Many experts predict rates
will rise for these so-called "young invincibles," and if too many young
adults avoid the new insurance marketplace, it could throw off the
entire equilibrium of the Affordable Care Act.
"I'm deeply concerned on many levels as to how this thing will roll out," McCarty said.