A new report analyzing health plan enrollment through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace shows that most people who signed up — about 70 percent — are paying less than $100 a month for coverage after their advance tax credits are accounted for and nearly half those who enrolled are paying less than $50 per month.
In Missouri, the average monthly premium after tax credits was $59 and in Kansas it was $67, according to the report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Eighty-five percent of Missourians who selected plans through the federally-run online exchanges, or marketplaces, chose plans with tax credits; the comparable figure in Kansas was 78 percent.
Without the tax credits, Missouri enrollees would have paid an average of $344 and Kansas enrollees $290, according to the report. Fifty-seven percent of Missouri enrollees and 52 percent of Kansas enrollees paid $50 or less a month.
“What we’re finding is that the marketplace is working,” HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell said in a statement. “Consumers have more choices and they’re paying less for their premiums.”
The online marketplace or exchange was launched Oct. 1, 2013, but because of technical difficulties and low public awareness most people who signed up did so in the weeks approaching the March 31 open enrollment deadline.
More than 8 million people nationwide selected plans through the marketplace, according to the report.
Federal subsidies to buy in the marketplace are available to those who don't have employer-based coverage options and earn between 100 percent and 400 percent of federal poverty guidelines.
The report did not include data on how many enrollees have actually paid their premiums, a prerequisite for coverage. Nor did it include information about the coverage costs of people who signed up for plans through the various state-run exchanges. Federal officials said those numbers weren't yet available from the states.
Kansas and Missouri were among the more than two dozen states that opted to let the federal government operate the marketplace instead of developing their own.
The Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, requires that marketplace plans be available in every state, and HHS officials encouraged each state to operate its own.
Among the report's highlights:
- The average premium paid after tax credits for the most popular plans — silver level —was $69 per month with a corresponding average monthly tax credit of $276.
- Of those eligible to purchase a marketplace plan, 82 percent lived in a rating area with between three and 11 issuers; 96 percent lived in areas with at least two issuers. Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Coventry, which is owned by Aetna, offers plans in Missouri and Kansas. Two states, New Hampshire and West Virginia, each had only one issuer. New York had 16 issuers, more than any other state.
HHS officials said they did not know how the numbers might change once information is received from the state-run exchanges.
"We're analyzing the data as fast as we can get them in," one official said. "Until then we can't speculate a lot on how it's going to shake out."
KHI News Service, an editorially independent reporting program of the Kansas Health Institute, contributed to this story.