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Health insurance costs expected to spike under ACA mandate

Health Care and Health Insurance
by Rebecca Ewing
Some worry about paying full price for exchange insurance
Some worry about paying full price for exchange insurance

The Affordable Care Act's (ACA) controversial coverage mandate goes into effect at the beginning of next year, with enrollment starting in just a few months. An estimate now shows that health insurance costs will likely rise under the new law.

A number of studies have shown wild disparities in just how much coverage will cost consumers under the ACA's exchanges. According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, a new estimate points to increases of as much as 20 percent for Americans who do not receive coverage through their employers, or government-run Medicaid or Medicare programs. This is particularly true of healthier consumers in general, as minimum costs will likely increase, even as they provide more coverage and benefits in general.

For instance, 40-year-old non-smokers who currently pay for their own insurance will likely receive a higher quality of care under the ACA's "bronze" plans; however, the approximate $200 per month price tag may be unpalatable to those who preferred to keep their costs below those levels the report said. "Silver" and "gold" insurance packages will also be available through ACA exchanges and these will provide additional coverage above and beyond the bronze offerings.  However, there are questions about how popular they will be among consumers simply because of the added costs they'll likely come with.

For instance, in Richmond, Virginia, some health insurance plans may come with a sizable deductible of $5,000 and only covers 50 percent of costs for care, but only a $63 per month price tag, the report said.  The lowest-cost plan for the same person under the state's exchange, meanwhile, is about $193, and may be difficult to afford for the families who are specifically supposed to receive added assistance through the exchanges.  These may be preferable, though, to those who encounter sizable medical bills and have to cover far larger costs down the road.  However, it should be noted that in many cases consumers with lower income levels will be eligible for tax credits to make these plans more affordable overall.

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