Health insurance ‘for less than the cost of your cellphone bill’


The timing could have been better for the right. On the one hand, the political world marveled at the spectacle on the Senate floor, where far-right senators condemned a federal law that brings health care security to millions of Americans.

And on the other, while the pointless political theater played out, the political world also learned that the maligned law continues to work even more effectively than expected.

The Obama administration on Tuesday provided the first detailed look at premiums to be charged to consumers for health insurance in 36 states where the federal government will run new insurance markets starting next week, highlighting costs it said were generally lower than previous estimates. […]

“I can tell you right now that in many states across the country, if you’re, say, a 27-year-old young woman, don’t have health insurance, you get on that exchange, you’re going to be able to purchase high-quality health insurance for less than the cost of your cellphone bill,” Mr. Obama said Tuesday, speaking at a health care forum in New York City with former President Bill Clinton.

The political bookends were almost amusing: Republican senators were talking about higher-than-expected premiums while the Obama administration was boasting about lower-than-expected premiums. Only one side of the divide knew what it was talking about, and it wasn’t the former.

The information was published in this HHS report, which comes less than a week before the open-enrollment period begins through exchange marketplaces. On the whole, for silver-level health care plans, the Obama administration found that premiums will, on average, be 16% more affordable than the original estimates published by the Congressional Budget Office.

As you look over the numbers, note, of course, that premiums do not reflect the subsidies and credits the Affordable Care Act will provide. In other words, what families actually pay for coverage will be even lower than the prices on the page. More than half of the uninsured who can get insurance through the exchanges could end up paying monthly premiums of $100 or less.

Some of you are probably asking, “Wait, didn’t we already talk about this?” Sort of. We’ve learned over the last several weeks about affordable care in states that have created their own exchanges under the law, and how encouraging the results have been. We’ve also seen projections about premiums under the federally-run marketplaces.

But the news overnight offers official, definitive information that we hadn’t seen up until now.

For more, Jonathan Cohn, and Sandhya Somashekhar and Sarah Kliff have published some worthwhile analyses that are well worth checking out.

Affordable Care Act and Obamacare

Health insurance 'for less than the cost of your cellphone bill'