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More details about new health plans, prices available

Updated: October 2, 2013 10:03AM



Because of glitches on the federal website that was supposed to reveal the full list of insurance prices offered in Illinois on Tuesday, much of that information is still a mystery.

But in the meantime, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released more examples of rates to the Chicago Sun-Times, which can be searched at www.suntimes.com.

Health insurance plans offered through the marketplace are categorized as bronze, the lowest price; silver; gold, or platinum, the highest price). All plans are required to carry what’s considered “essential health benefits,” such as maternity benefits and prescription drugs. Bronze plans, though, would have lower premiums but higher out-of-pocket costs, such as co-pays.

The information allows you to compare different silver plans from different insurers. For instance, in Cook County, monthly premiums for a silver PPO family plan range from $868.44 to $1,045.76 at Land of Lincoln and from $954.96 to $980.52 at Humana, depending on the type of plan.

But the rates don’t reflect the lower price an applicant might qualify for in tax credits.

Individuals and families with income between 133 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level are supposed to receive subsidies on a sliding scale if they get insurance through the marketplace. That works out to income as high as $45,960 for an individual and up to $94,200 for a family of four.

And the premium is just one factor of the equation.

Other factors, such as the deductible — the amount you have to pay each year before the plan starts to pay — aren’t included in the information provided. So the information isn’t complete yet.

When more details becomes available, Dan Yunker, the CEO of Land of Lincoln Health and also the senior vice president and CFO of the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council, said consumers need to do their homework before they choose an insurance plan.

There are going to be a lot of options for them, “but the monthly premium alone is not the only [component]. It’s the total cost they need to understand,” Yunker said Monday.

The marketplace is supposed to provide a one-stop place where people without insurance can shop for affordable health insurance plans, starting Tuesday.

The marketplaces, which are supposed to be created in all states by October, are one of the key ways the Affordable Care Act — informally known as Obamacare — is supposed to decrease the number of Americans who are uninsured.

Six insurers submitted 165 qualified health care plans to be offered on the individual and small business exchanges.

Those insurers were Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, the state’s largest health insurance market; Humana Inc. of Louisville, Ky.; the insurance arm of Carle Foundation, a nonprofit hospital in Urbana; Aetna Inc. of Hartford, Conn.; Coventry Health Care Inc. of Bethesda, Md., and Land of Lincoln Health Inc. Co-op.

It’s impossible to make an apples-to-apples comparison between the new plans and the ones that existed before from these insurers, because all of the plans are essentially new insurance products. They reflect many new changes in insurance regulation that weren’t in effect previously, such as requiring “essential health benefits,” the Kaiser Family Foundation noted.

Contributing: Max Rust and Art Golab



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