KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations.

‘Average’ Exchange Premiums Come In Lower Than Projected

The Obama administration said Wednesday that average premiums in the health law's online insurance marketplaces will be lower than projected by the Congressional Budget Office - 16 percent lower nationwide. But the rates will vary widely depending on where you live, from significantly higher than average in Wyoming and Alaska to lower than average in Tennessee and Texas.

Kaiser Health News: Average Obamacare Premiums Will Be Lower Than Projected
Just days before new online health insurance markets are set to open, the Obama administration Wednesday released a look at average premiums, saying rates in most states are lower than earlier projected -- and that 95 percent of consumers will have at least two insurers to choose from. The report – released the same day that President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton touted the law’s benefits -- comes as part of a stepped-up administration effort to explain and defend the health law as congressional Republicans target it for defunding (Appleby and Galewitz, 9/25).

The New York Times: Officials Detail Premium Costs Of Health Plan
Administration officials released the information, central to their campaign to persuade millions of uninsured Americans to sign up for coverage, even as Senator Ted Cruz, Republican of Texas, waged a fierce fight on the Senate floor, risking a government shutdown if necessary to eliminate financing for the expansion of coverage under President Obama’s health care law (Pear, 9/25).

The Wall Street Journal: Prices Set For New Health Care Exchanges
The plans, offered under the health care overhaul to people who don't get insurance through an employer or government program, in many cases provide broader coverage than current policies. Costs will vary widely from state to state and for different types of consumers. Government subsidies will cut costs for some lower-income consumers (Radnofsky 9/25).

NPR: Administration Touts Lower-Than-Expected Obamacare Premiums
Premiums in the health insurance exchanges set to open next week will be lower than anticipated, the Obama administration announced Wednesday. According to a report released by the Department of Health and Human Services, "premiums nationwide will ... be around 16 percent lower than originally expected," and 95 percent of uninsured people live in a state with average premiums that are lower than expected (Rovner, 9/25).

Los Angeles Times: Online Obamacare Marketplaces Offer Ample Options, Report Says
Most Americans who shop for health insurance on new online marketplaces set up under President Obama's health law will have a wide variety of choices, a new report from the Department of Health and Human Services indicates. And many young consumers will be able to select health plans that cost $100 a month or less, according to the report, which is based on a preliminary analysis of premiums that insurers will charge when the insurance becomes available Jan. 1 in 36 states (Levey, 9/24).

The Washington Post's Wonk Blog: How Much Will Obamacare Premiums Cost? Depends On Where You Live. 
A 27-year-old in Austin who earns $25,000 could pay $85 per month for health insurance next year, and a family of four in St. Louis with income of $50,000 might face a $32 monthly premium, according to new federal data on health insurance rates under the Affordable Care Act. The report, released Wednesday by the Department of Health and Human Services, showed significant variation in the insurance premiums that Americans shopping on the individual market could pay under the president’s health-care overhaul. Across the 48 states for which data were available, the unsubsidized monthly premiums could be as low as $70 for an individual and as high as $1,200 for a moderate plan for a family of four (Somashekhar and Kliff, 9/25).

The Associated Press/Washington Post: Obama Administration Unveils Premiums And Choices In 36 States As Health Overhaul Debut Nears
The overview of premiums and plan choices, released Wednesday by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, comes as the White House swings into full campaign mode to promote the benefits of the Affordable Care Act to a skeptical public. Congressional Republicans, meanwhile, refuse to abandon their quest to derail "Obamacare" and flirt with a government shutdown to force the issue (9/25).

USA Today: How The Insurance Exchanges Stack Up
Wednesday's report is the latest review of exchanges' rates and policies from HHS and various states. Most have shown lower rates than anticipated, as more insurers have entered the markets and pegged their prices to capture more customers. The Obama administration estimates that 7 million uninsured Americans will use the exchanges to buy insurance in the six-month enrollment period that starts next week and ends March 1 (Kennedy, 9/25).

Politico: HHS Reveals Obamacare Coverage Prices For Federal Exchanges
The administration put the best face on the health insurance premiums, emphasizing that the rates have come in lower than expected in the 36 states where the feds will run part or all of the exchanges. That part of the report gives them a snappy answer to the widespread predictions of "rate shock" by critics of Obamacare (Norman and Millman, 9/25). 

NBC News: $11 A Month? Obamacare Super-Cheap For Some, Feds Find
HHS has analyzed the plans that have been approved to go on offer starting Tuesday and finds that in most states, there's plenty of choice with reasonable prices. That gives the administration ammunition against critics who have been warning that health insurance will cost more in the exchanges than it does now (Fox, 9/25).

McClatchy: Report: Obamacare Health Insurance Will Have Affordable Rates 
With prices all but finalized in most states, a new report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that monthly premiums in 47 states and the District of Columbia, on average, will be 16 percent lower next year than the Congressional Budget Office projected they would be in 2016 -- when the marketplaces are at full capacity. Roughly 95 percent of uninsured people who are eligible for marketplace coverage live in states where average monthly premiums for individual coverage is lower than expected, the report found. And the states with the lowest premiums have more than twice the number of plans offering coverage than states with the highest premiums (Pugh, 9/25).

The Texas Tribune: Feds Release Premium Rates For Insurance Marketplace
As the nation watched U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz on Tuesday argue for hours to defund Obamacare -- even at the cost of shutting down the federal government -- the Obama administration released preliminary data showing that premium rates in the health insurance marketplace created by the law will be comparatively low for Texans (Aaronson, 9/24).

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Feds Say New Health Exchanges Will Be Competitive, Affordable
New health insurance marketplaces are fostering competition that will mean lower premiums than initially expected, federal officials said Tuesday. In a new report, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services provided estimates of average policy rates for consumers in 36 states, including Missouri and Illinois, where the federal government is involved in setting up the marketplaces (Doyle and Kulash, 9/24).

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