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The Journal Gazette

Premium ranges widen with age

Health marketplace price details emerge

Premiums in the region’s health insurance marketplace will vary widely for older consumers – with a $175 or more per-month difference between high-end and low-end plans, data from the state show.

One of the big unknowns about the health insurance marketplace as the Affordable Care Act takes effect has been premium pricing.

Insurance providers have closely guarded their rate information for competitive reasons, waiting for the scheduled Oct. 1 rollout of the online marketplace.

But they haven’t been able to keep it secret from state officials, who have to review and approve proposed premiums as legally and financially sound.

The Indiana Department of Insurance has received premium pricing from all four providers that will sell polices to northeast Indiana residents. They are: Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, Physicians Health Plan, MDwise and Coordinated Care.

Dennis Rosebrough, spokesman for the state’s Insurance Department, estimated that insurers have filed hundreds of rates with his office. They vary depending on age, location and smoking status.

At The Journal Gazette’s request, he asked a staff actuary to compile a sampling of individual premiums, based on nonsmoking Allen County residents at ages 20, 40 and 60.

In all three age categories, PHP will charge the lowest premiums and Coordinated Care will charge the highest.

But it’s important to note that PHP and Coordinated Care offer various plans with diverse benefits. The more expensive plans would presumably offer more coverage or come with lower deductibles and/or co-pays.

The difference between high-end and low-end premiums increases as people age.

For a 20-year-old, slightly more than $41 separates the least and most expensive premiums. At 40, the difference is more than $82 per month – or almost $1,000 a year.

And 60-year-olds face more than $175 per month variation in premiums, depending whether they opt for high- or low-end coverage within the marketplace. That difference adds up to more than $2,000 over 12 months.

Indiana officials expect that 300,000 or more Hoosiers could enter the individual health insurance market next year, according to an Aug. 6 letter about federal subsidies signed by Stephen Robertson, Indiana’s commissioner of insurance.

About 178,000 Indiana residents now buy health insurance on the individual market, according to the Insurance Department. They will be joined by the uninsured and workers whose employers drop coverage – possibly replaced by subsidies paid to workers.

Consumers who receive health insurance coverage at work don’t have to review the federally facilitated marketplace and the plans offered there – or plans offered outside the marketplace that don’t qualify for federal tax subsidies.

Anyone with household income between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level will be eligible for assistance to pay premiums.