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Moderate rates set for Indiana insurance exchange

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TOM LoBIANCO,

Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) The cost of buying health insurance through Indiana's federal exchange neither as expensive as detractors expected, nor as cheap as supporters have surmised, according to rates released by the federal government Wednesday.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report included data for 36 states whose online marketplaces are being run by the federal government.

More than 500,000 Indiana residents are expected to be eligible to buy insurance through the exchange. Enrollment begins next week, and the state's wide range of rates starts at under $100 per month for some single adults and goes up to more than $1,000 for a family of four.

A 27-year-old individual would pay anywhere from $168 a month for bare-bones "catastrophic" coverage to $332 monthly for the cheapest of highest-tier "gold" plans. And a hypothetical family of four with the second-lowest "silver" plan could pay up to $961 a month. However, tax credits for middle- to lower-income single adults and families will drop those costs significantly.

"Indiana is not the highest, and Indiana not the lowest, but you're definitely going to be offering some new, affordable health care than what's been offered in the past," said David Roos, executive director of Covering Kids and Families of Indiana.

The advance look at rates comes a week before Indiana's exchange, where residents can comparison-shop for coverage, is set to open. Gov. Mike Pence, a vociferous opponent of President Barack Obama's federal health care law while serving in Congress, opted last year to let the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services set up and run Indiana's exchange.

State officials, however, have beefed up the number of Medicaid caseworkers and been running tests on the technical infrastructure. Republican lawmakers also approved a plan earlier this year that made Indiana one of a handful of states to require background checks and additional certification for "navigators," whose job is to help residents choose coverage.

Beginning January 1, residents will have to own insurance, pay a penalty or show they qualify for a special exemption from the federal mandate.

Throughout the extensive partisan debates over the law, one of the most pressing questions has been: How much will it cost?

The data released Wednesday, which is based off rate plans submitted by the insurance companies which will sell through the exchanges, shows a wide range of possibilities in each of the four categories. In Indiana, four insurers will be offering 34 different plans.

For example, an individual can choose from $200 a month for "bronze" coverage, $258 a month for "silver" coverage and $332 a month for "gold" coverage. But if that person earns $25,000 a little more than double the federal poverty level federal subsidies will cut the cost of the "silver" coverage by roughly $120 a month.

A hypothetical family of four earning $50,000 would pay $282 a month for a federally subsidized "silver" plan.

HHS only provided general benchmarks Wednesday, so specific quotes would vary based on myriad factors for anyone buying through the exchange.

 

Posted 9/25/2013