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September 26, 2013

Study: Insurance costs cheaper than expected

Consumers will pay about 16 percent less than expected for health insurance in 36 states, including New Hampshire, under the new Affordable Care Act, a newly released federal study says.

The federal Department of Health and Human Services released the analysis this week as uninsured people prepare to sign up for the new health insurance plans beginning next week.

Advocates are still reviewing the report, but are encouraged.

“It does look like rates are going down and that’s terrific,” said Lisa Kaplan Howe, policy director with New Hampshire Voices for Health.

“This is welcome news for middle class families everywhere, who have already started to see positive returns on health reform and will continue to as ‘Obamacare’ is fully implemented,” said Zandra Rice-Hawkins, executive director of Granite State Progress.

But critics remain wary.

“Unfortunately, the numbers released by HHS (Tuesday) still don’t allow people to make a comparison between how much their plans cost this year against how much they will cost next year,” said Greg Moore, state director for Americans For Prosperity.

The study said the average premium nationally, before tax credits, is $328 for the second lowest silver plan, about 16 percent below Congressional Budget Office forecasts.

People in New Hampshire would pay an estimated $360 for the same coverage, the study concluded.

That’s less than their neighbors in Maine, $403, and Vermont, $413.

The study looked at states where the federal government will fully or partly run the marketplace.

Plans are categorized as bronze, silver, gold and platinum and reflect the split in healthcare costs between plan and consumer.

A bronze participant would typically pay 40 percent of costs, while a platinum participant would pay just 10 percent.

Tax credits will make a difference for those who qualify. Some would see monthly costs as low as $18 when the upfront credit is factored, Howe said.

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