By Maya Jones
Special to the NNPA from the New York Amsterdam News
The new insurance exchanges within the Affordable Care Act have provided millions of consumers with an online database where consumers will be able to purchase coverage plans and compare health insurance plans instantly.
The four levels of plans within the system will provide basic essential coverage for emergency hospitalization, check-ups and prescriptions. The cost of each Medicare supplement plan varies depending on the level, and different companies and providers will offer a variation of premiums, such as higher or lower co-payments and deductibles.
The Bronze plans have the lowest premium, projected to cover 60 percent of expenses. They will require consumers to pay out-of-pocket costs.
The Silver plans are considered the standard available plan’s and are projected to cover 70 percent of expenses. The Gold plans will cover 80 percent of expenses. The Platinum plans, with the highest premiums, will cover 90 percent of medical expenses. Catastrophic plans are available to consumers who are under 30 years old and consumers with very low household incomes or large families. This plan provides up to three yearly doctor visits. During this time span, a $6,400 out-of-pocket deductible will take place before insurance payments start for illness or injury. The lower your income, the more you save.
People who are uninsured still affect our nation’s health care system. Currently, when people are uninsured, private doctors do not take them. Instead, people flee to any available clinic or emergency room to be examined. A common issue is that hospitals are over-crowded with emergencies and have exceedingly long wait times for patients to be screened. Because the uninsured are often unable to pay for their medical expenses, the expenses are passed on to those with premiums, causing inflation in their medical plan coverage expenses. Emergency room visits are more expensive than a trip to the doctor’s office. As of August of 2013, the U.S. health care inflation rate was 2.34 percent, compared to 1.94 percent last month and 4.05 percent as of last year.
Let’s say your annual household income is $51,017, your family consists of four people—two children and two adults—and you are not receiving employer health coverage. The amount you would have to pay for the premium would cost you $3,511 per year, which equals 6.88 percent of your household income and covers 41 percent of the overall premium. You could receive a government tax credit subsidy of up to $5,121, which covers 59 percent of the overall premium.
With this in mind, the cost to enroll in the Bronze plan would be $2,033 per year, which is 3.99 percent of your household income after the subsidies. Your out-of-pocket costs for the Silver plan (not including the premium) can be no more than $10,400—that figure being the maximum level depending on the amount of health care services you use throughout the year.
A recent report shows that during the first week, more than 51,000 Americans have already completed Obamacare applications. Coverage will begin on January 1, 2014. Open enrollment will conclude on March 31, 2014.
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