For Hometown News
A new report, released by the Department of Health and Human Services, finds that in state after state, consumers will see increased competition in the health insurance marketplace, leading to new and affordable choices for consumers.
According to the report, consumers will be able to choose from an average of 53 health plans in the marketplace, and the vast majority of consumers will have a choice of at least two different health insurance companies - usually more.
Premiums nationwide will also be around 16 percent lower than originally expected - with about 95 percent of eligible uninsured live in states with lower than expected premiums - before taking into account financial assistance.
Consumers will be able to find out whether they qualify for premium assistance and compare plans side-by-side, based on pricing, quality and benefits.
No one can be denied coverage because of a preexisting condition. A six-month-long open enrollment period will run through March 2014.
Coverage begins as early as Jan. 1.
The report finds that individuals in the 36 states where HHS will fully or partly run the marketplace will have an average of 53 qualified health plan choices.
Plans in the marketplace will be categorized as either "gold," "silver" or "bronze," depending on the share of costs covered.
Young adults will also have the option of purchasing a "catastrophic" plan, increasing their number of choices to 57 on average.
About 95 percent of consumers will have a choice of two or more health insurance issuers, often many more. About one in four of these insurance companies are offering health plans in the individual market for the first time in 2014, a sign of healthy competition.
The report also gives an overview of pricing and the number of coverage options across the nation.
It finds that the average premium nationally for the second lowest cost silver plan will be $328 before tax credits, or 16 percent below projections based off of Congressional Budget Office estimates.
About 95 percent of uninsured people eligible for the marketplace live in a state where their average premium is lower than projections. And states with the lowest premiums have more than twice the number of insurance companies offering plans than states with the highest premiums.
Consumers can get help finding marketplace coverage through a number of different resources.
They can get more information through HealthCare.gov at www.healthcare.gov or cuidadodesalud at www.cuidadodesalud.gov/es.gov.
Consumers can participate in online web chats or call (800) 318-2596 toll-free (TTY: (855) 889-4325) to speak with trained customer service representatives, with translation services available in 150 languages.
Community health centers, navigators and other assisters are available in local communities to provide in-person help with coverage choices.
Local libraries will help consumers learn about their options and hundreds of Champions for Coverage, which are public and private organizations all across the country that are helping people learn about their options and enroll in affordable coverage.
To read the report on health insurance rates, visit http://aspe.hhs.gov/health/reports/2013/MarketplacePremiums/ib_marketplace_premiums.cfm.