That's a good point, Kim. Do both of you expect premiums to go up?
Yes, I expect premiums will go up about 6% to 7% for employers overall, although I'm not sure how much of that will be passed on to employees. However the trend for the past few years has been for the employers to shift more of the increased costs on to workers and I expect that will continue.
So rising premiums are not necessarily a direct result of Obamacare?
Premiums for employer plans have been increasing every year -- last year, they rose by 9%, and they've increased by 113% since 2001(including many years of increases before the new law was passed). And meanwhile, employers have shifted more costs to employees in less-obvious ways, such as by boosting coinsurance rates or copayments and increasing deductibles. It's important to add up the overall cost of coverage -- premiums plus out-of-pocket expenses -- when comparing your options.
Some employer studies estimate that the ACA may add 1% to 2% to cost hikes.
Some good advice, thanks Kim.
Alright, here's our next question from Karen.
We also have a comment from Cascadia.
Karen, you will need to buy health insurance come 2014. By then the insurance exchange in your state will be up and running where you will be able to shop for the best plan for you. You may be eligible for a subsidy from Uncle Sam to help you buy health insurance.
If you're in relatively good health, you could get a policy now. In most states, healthy people in their 20s can generally find a policy for less than $200 a month, and you can lower your premiums by getting a high-deductible policy, which can also qualify you to contribute to a health savings account -- you can make tax-deductible contributions and use the money tax-free for medical expenses (such as to help pay the deductible). Starting in 2014, you'll be able to get coverage on a state health insurance exchange, regardless of your medical condition.
Cascadia, that is exactly the argument the Obama Administration made for requiring all to buy health insurance. By having everyone participating, the pool is bigger and the risk is spread out and the premiums are lower.
We have a question about the individual mandate from Jess
And to the writer who had the 15% premium increase -- it's a good idea to shop around and see if you can get a better deal with another company; the prices can vary a lot from insurer to insurer. You can see a list of companies offering coverage in your area at HealthCare.gov or eHealthInsurance.com. You can also save money by raising your deductible. Insurers must generally provide some preventive coverage now even for high-deductible policies.
Depending on your income you might be eligible for Medicaid. Beginning in 2014 anyone with an income at or lower than 133% of the federal poverty level (which currently would be $14,856 for an individual or $30,656 for a family of four) will be eligible for Medicaid.
You might be eligible for government subsidies to help you pay for private insurance sold in the state insurance marketplaces, These premium subsidies will be available for individauls and families with incomes between 133% and 400% of the poverty level, or $14,856 to $44,680 for individuals and $30,656 to $92,200 for a family of four.
Thanks, a lot of good information there Martha.
Alright, we have one more question in the queue. Then, we'll go ahead and wrap up.
Martha, this looks like a good one for you.
Jess, as a practical matter calling it a tax makes no difference. It amounts to an invitation to buy insurance, rather than an order to do so, with a tax penalty for going without.
People who hate Obamacare will love it and those who support it will be turned off. Most of the electorate has made up its mind about the law no matter what the Supreme Court says. In the end it will be the health of the economy and not health care reform that will determine who wins in November.
Very good point, Martha.
Alright, looks like we’re out of time for today’s chat.
Thanks to everyone who joined us! And thank you Martha and Kim for taking the time to be here.
Thanks for your great questions! We'll have more articles in the next few weeks about how to make the most of your health insurance options, especially as they'll be changing in the next two years.
Yes, thanks for pointing that out, Kim. Much more to come!