WASHINGTON (AP) — The No. 1 question about President Barack Obama's health care law is whether Americans will be able to afford the coverage.
The biggest study yet of premiums posted by states has found that the sticker price for a 21-year-old buying a midrange policy will average about $270 a month. That's before government tax credits that act like a discount for most people, bringing down the cost based on income.
List-price premiums for a 40-year-old buying a midrange plan will average close to $330, the study by Avalere Health found. For a 60-year-old, they were nearly double that: $615 a month.
The findings point to the emergence of a competitive market, said the report's lead author, Caroline Pearson, a vice president of Avalere, a private data analysis firm. But it's a market with big price differences among age groups, states and even within states.
The bottom line is mixed: Many consumers will probably like their new options, particularly if they qualify for a tax credit. But others may have to stretch to afford coverage.
The Obama administration didn't challenge the findings, but Health and Human Services spokeswoman Joanne Peters said consumers will have options that are cheaper than the averages presented.
The Avalere study crunched the numbers on premiums filed by insurers in 11 states and Washington, D.C.
The states analyzed were California, Connecticut, Indiana, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Virginia and Washington.
The study looked at premiums for nonsmoking 21-year-olds, 40-year-olds and 60-year-olds.
It compared four levels of plans available under Obama's law: bronze, silver, gold and platinum. Bronze plans will cover 60 percent of expected medical costs; silver plans will cover 70 percent; gold will cover 80 percent; and platinum 90 percent.
The average premium for a silver plan ranged from $203 a month for a 21-year-old in Maryland to a high of $764 for a 60-year-old in Connecticut.
The silver plan premiums for 40-year-olds were about $75 a month higher than for 21-year-olds. The price jumped for 60-year-olds. The health law allows insurers to charge older adults up to three times more than younger ones. That's less than in most states now, but it could still be a shock.
But older consumers could also be the biggest beneficiaries of the tax credits, because they work by limiting what a person pays for health insurance to a given percentage of income.
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