Healthcare for free?

Despite premium increases, 2018 could be cheapest year ever for Wyomingite’s health insurance

 


Because of some changes to the Affordable Care Act—ACA or Obamacare as it is commonly known—premiums for Wyoming residents who purchase policies on the government exchange website have gone up. However, according to figures published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, or HHS, about 90 percent of Wyoming residents will qualify for a health insurance plan with monthly premiums of $75 or less.

According to the study, the average rate for a so-called “benchmark plan” in Wyoming will be $710 per month, up 72 percent.

However, because tax credits for the plans have increased in the state, many Wyoming residents will not see significant increases in premiums for the benchmark plan.

According to the HHS, the average subsidy amount for a 27-year-old with an annual income of $25,000 will increase from $272 per month in 2017 to $572 per month in 2018, a 110 percent increase.

A family of four making $60,000 per year would see its premiums for the benchmark plan increase from $1,496 per month to $2,569 per month—a 72 percent increase. That same family would also receive $2,176 in subsidies, up from $1,093 per month in 2017, a 99 percent increase.

According to the study, Wyoming has the highest average rate for a benchmark plan in the U.S. The HHS said in the study Wyoming’s relatively high costs for the plans are likely because the state only has one insurer.

A move by the Trump Administration to cut off funding for the tax credits—called Advance Premium Tax Credits—are also partially responsible for the increase in the benchmark plan, according to an analysis by Avalere Healthcare, a healthcare industry consulting firm.

Those willing to purchase cheaper, non-benchmark plans could get health insurance for less than $75 per month. According to the HHS study, about 90 percent of Wyoming applicants qualify for a non-benchmark plan for $75 per month or less.

A non-benchmark plan is a cheaper plan, generally with higher copays and higher-out-of-pocket costs per year. All plans, however, will cover catastrophic healthcare needs.

Of five people polled by the Saratoga Sun in a non-scientific poll, all five had non-benchmark health insurance plans available to them at no cost on healthcare.gov, the government’s signup website for health insurance.

Another said his premiums for a benchmark plan were reduced from $109 per month to $106 per month, despite the increase in the pre tax-credit premiums.

In Wyoming, about 11.2 percent of the population was without health insurance in 2017, ranking the state seventh in the nation in the rate of the uninsured.

Enrollment for ACA health care plans is currently ongoing at http://www.healthcare.gov. Enrollment will continue until Dec. 15.

 

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