The Obamacare premiums will cost less than predicted, according to data released Wednesday by the Obama administration.
The national average premium for the benchmark plan will be $328 a month before subsidies, 16 percent less than projected by the Congressional Budget Office. The benchmark is the second-lowest cost "silver" policy for 48 states, upon which federal subsidies are based.
The data also provided the first look for consumers into rates on the 36 federally run insurance exchanges. Prices vary widely based on one's age, income and state.
For instance, a 27-year-old living in Dallas making $25,000 could pay as little as $74 a month for the cheapest "bronze" plan after subsidies, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.
But a 60-year-old in Wyoming who makes more than $46,000 a year -- too much to get a tax credit -- could pay as much as $758 for a similar plan.
The majority of people uninsured today will be able to find a policy for $100 or less a month, taking into account subsidies and Medicaid eligibility, the administration said.
Consumers will be able to start enrolling in the exchanges on Oct. 1, with coverage beginning in January. Starting in 2014, nearly everyone must have insurance -- either through their jobs, government programs or the individual market -- or face a penalty.
Americans with incomes up to 400 percent of poverty are eligible for federal subsidies. So a 27-year-old making $25,000 a year will pay only $145 a month for the benchmark plan in all states other than Alaska and Hawaii, while a family of four earning $50,000 will have a $282 monthly tab.
Additional information, including the names of insurers offering plans on the federal exchanges and the deductibles and co-pays associated with the policies, has yet to be unveiled. The department just said that the number of plans ranges from 6 to 169, depending on the area. Consumers will have a choice of as few as one insurer and as many as 13, based on where they live.
In states where there are only a handful insurers, premiums are much higher, said Gary Claxton, vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation. In the three most expensive states, Wyoming, Alaska and Mississippi, residents will only have a choice of two insurers.
Most people who sign up for coverage in the exchange, however, will be eligible for subsidies. The lower your income, the larger your subsidy. For instance, those making $17,235 a year will pay no more than 4 percent of income, or $57 a month, while those with incomes between $34,470 and $45,960 will pay a maximum of 9.5 percent of income, or $364 a month. The federal government will cover the rest.
Anyone earning more than $45,960 would be responsible for the entire tab on the Obamacare health plan of his choice.
Check out Kaiser's calculator to estimate your subsidy.
While the administration's report looks only at premiums, a health care advisory firm issued a report Wednesday saying that consumers in the exchange will face high out-of-pocket costs in the bronze- and silver-level plans. These policies have lower deductibles than gold and platinum plans, but carry higher cost sharing burdens.
The average silver plan will carry a $2,550 deductible and $30 primary care co-pay, while the typical bronze plan will have a $5,150 deductible and $39 co-pay, according to Avelere Health. The firm looked at policies in six states that have released detailed data.