Officials with the Department of Health and Human Services released a new report Wednesday that the federal Affordable Care Act means more competition and more choices for consumers.
"We are excited to see that rates in the marketplace are even lower than originally projected," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a prepared statement. "In the past, consumers were too often denied or priced out of quality health insurance options, but thanks to the Affordable Care Act, consumers will be able to choose from a number of new coverage options at a price that is affordable."
According to the report, consumers will be able to choose from an average of 53 health plans, which will be available through the online marketplaces that open Oct. 1.
To read the report on health insurance rates, click here.
To view the data on rates released Wednesday, click here.
Tennesseans will have 59 health plans to pick from, according to the report.
And consumers will generally have at least two health insurance companies to choose from, but usually more.
Premiums nationwide will also be about 16 percent lower than originally expected, according to the report.
Sen. Lamar Alexander said Wednesday that the Affordable Care Act will mean that some Tennesseans will have to pay more for health insurance. He said the report contains "limited information" and that some people will have fewer choices under the Affordable Care Act.
Click here to see the premiums Alexander referenced.
Alexander said that a 27-year-old man in Memphis can currently buy a plan for as low as $41 a month. On the exchange, the lowest state average is $119 a month—a 190 percent increase.
A spokesman for Alexander didn't immediately respond to a request for more information or sources about those numbers.
But the plan that costs $41 a month from BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee isn't comparable to the coverage offered through the exchanges, David Yoder, co-founder of American Exchange, said.
American Exchange is a new local company whose leaders are helping residents nationwide connect with health insurance through marketplaces that will be open in October.
The Affordable Care Act requires a minimum level of coverage. So the person paying $41 a month will likely have to go through the exchanges because they aren't currently covered to the extent required by the new law.
"What the senator conveniently left out were the most important details about this 27-year-old: What's his annual income? What's his household size? Without considering this vital information, we don't know if the monthly premium he will pay is actually $119," Yoder said via email.
By Yoder's calculations, a 27-year-old male who makes $23,000 a year can get coverage under a silver plan for $60 a month. Under that plan, his deductible for hospitalization would be $250, and he would pay a $10 copay for doctor visits.
Upfront tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies must be factored into the discussion of cost, he said. Many Tennesseans will qualify for tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies, he said.
And with the $41 plan, the deductible is $7,500 for hospital and doctor visits.
The Tennessean reported Wednesday that Tennessee has some of the least expensive options, with only two other states having cheaper plans.
President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act will provide health care coverage to 30 million people.
Last summer, the Supreme Court ruled that the core of the health care reform act was constitutional.
Some of the act's requirements have already been implemented, and others will continue to be rolled out in coming years.
Under the act, marketplaces are being created, which will allow individuals and small business owners to shop for insurance coverage via Internet-based exchanges.
Consumers will be able to make side-by-side comparisons between plans based on pricing, quality and benefits.
Oct. 1 is the beginning of a six-month-long enrollment period that runs through March 2014.
Coverage begins as early as Jan. 1 or in as little as 100 days from today.
People who don't already have insurance have to buy it through the exchange or pay a "shared responsibility payment" to the federal government, according to the Supreme Court ruling.
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