Health care reform prices and policies revealed, but vary by region

By Amy Davis, Investigative Reporter/Consumer Expert, adavis@kprc.com
Published On: Sep 26 2013 06:21:16 PM CDT
Updated On: Sep 26 2013 06:24:49 PM CDT

September 26, 2013: Federal health officials have just revealed the first sneak peak at plans that will be available in the Houston area and how much they'll cost. Amy Davis reports.

HOUSTON -

Just four more days until Americans can begin signing up for insurance created by the Health Care Reform law. We're now learning new details about the options that will be offered in our area. 

Federal health officials have just revealed the first sneak peak at plans that will be available in the Houston area and how much they'll cost. The prices and policies vary by region, so rates in Houston are different than Dallas and San Antonio.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services there will be 46 insurance plans offered to people in the Houston area.

The median plan will cost a 27-year-old $201 a month. If that 27-year-old makes just $25,000 a year, he gets $56 to help pay for the insurance, knocking down his monthly cost to $145. That $56 is a subsidy.

"You should think of it the way you would a coupon," said Elena Marks of Rice University's Baker Institute. "It tells you a dollar amount and you may use that dollar amount as a credit against any of the premiums that are offered in the exchange."

You can choose a plan in the exchange beginning Tuesday, whether you qualify for a subsidy or not. There are four levels of plans: bronze with the lowest premiums, silver, gold and then platinum with the highest premiums.

"The lower the premium you pay, the higher your deductibles and co-pays and co-insurance are likely to be," explained Marks. "And it may be true that your provider networks are more restricted."

In our area we know the lowest priced bronze plan for a 27-year-old with no tax credits will be $138. A family of four with a household income of $50,000 would pay $282 a month after their subsidy.

"What we haven't yet learned is what the co-pays will be, what the deductibles will be, what the provider networks will look like. And we haven't even learned the names of the insurance companies that will be offering these plans," Marks said.

All of that information will be available Tuesday, October 1 on Healthcare.gov. You can go to the website to type in your information to find out if you are eligible for a subsidy.

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