Floridians who bought health insurance on the Affordable Care Act marketplace and received tax credits got a pretty good deal, according to federal data.
They spent an average of $68 a month, considerably less than the national average of $82, the charts show. (See page 23 in the report, below)
The reason for the bargain? The plans were subsidized through tax credits taken in advance. Ninety-one percent of those who enrolled in Florida received the financial help, averaging $278 a month.
Without the tax credits, the average premium in Florida would have been $347 a month.
Florida consumers are receiving “a tremendous benefit” from affordable coverage, said Greg Mellowe, policy director for Florida CHAIN, a pro-marketplace consumer group.
Florida taxpayers are, as well, Mellowe said, because “in the Marketplace, Florida is a recipient state rather than a donor state.”
The savings to Florida enrollees apparently is linked to their low incomes, since the average premium in Florida without tax credits is actually one dollar higher than the national average.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) officials who released the charts and spoke to the press on “background” — meaning they didn’t want their names used — said the study showed that the states with the most insurers participating in the marketplace tended to have the lower prices.
The newly-confirmed HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell released a comment through a press release: “What we’re finding is that the Marketplace is working. Consumers have more choices, and they’re paying less for their premiums. …When there is choice and competition, everybody benefits.”
Florida had about 10 plan sponsors, depending on how they’re counted, and each one offered multiple offerings, totaling 102 plans available in the state. But some counties had much more choice than others.
Key West in Monroe County was hit hardest by the disparity. Only two companies — Florida Blue and Cigna — participated in that county, with a total of 38 plans, according to an article in the online publication KeysNews.
Broward County residents had the lowest average prices, according to news reports last October.
Income, geography and the level of coverage all count. An enrollee in Key West who qualifies for a big tax credit would pay less than someone in Broward who doesn’t.
There are also five levels of plans, not all of which qualify for those who receive tax credits: platinum, gold, silver, bronze and catastrophic. Most of those who qualify for tax credits enroll in silver plans.
Credits on the marketplace — Healthcare.gov — were available to those between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level, on a sliding scale that varies depending on the number of dependents. (Health News Florida published the index and a link to the plan data.)
For an individual, those with incomes of about $11,500 would qualify for the largest discount. Those with incomes lower than that would be shut out, however, because Florida declined to expand Medicaid to cover low-income adults.
Most of the cost over 10 years would have been borne by the federal government, but Florida’s House Republicans has blocked it in the past two legislative sessions.
–Carol Gentry, Health News Florida