Americans will pay an average premium of $328 monthly for a mid-tier health insurance plan when the Obamacare health exchanges open for enrollment next week, and most will qualify for government subsidies to lower that price, the Obama administration said on Wednesday.
The figure, based on data for approved insurance plans in 48 states, represents the broadest national estimate for how much Americans will pay for health coverage under President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law next year.
The prices of the new plans are at the heart of a political debate over whether they will be affordable enough to attract millions of uninsured Americans.
By comparison, the Kaiser Family Foundation estimated that the average monthly premiums in the individual market in 2010 were $215 per person.
Prices were lower in states with more competition among insurers and higher in states with fewer players, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said in its report. Americans will be able to sign up for the new plans via online state exchanges beginning on October 1.
‘For millions of Americans these new options will finally make health insurance work within their budgets,’ HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said during a briefing with reporters.
The Obama administration is counting on signing up 7 million Americans in the first full year of reform through the state exchanges, including 2.7 million younger and healthier consumers who are needed to offset the costs of sicker members.
Debate over whether Obamacare will prove affordable for millions of uninsured Americans has been sharp during the past few months, as states have announced rates. States that have supported the law said it will lead to lower prices. Others that have opposed the reform – including Georgia, Florida, and Indiana – warned of ‘rate shock’ for consumers compared to what they could buy on the individual insurance market a year ago.