Obamacare numbers lower than expected

By Bryan Richardson

The furor over “Obamacare” turned into real numbers Wednesday as the federal government revealed premium figures that were “lower than originally projected.”

As GOP legislators continue their attempts to defund the plan through a threatened government shutdown, the Department of Health and Human Services unveiled premiums and plan choices for 36 states, including Kansas.

The report by health secretary Kathleen Sebelius indicated that premiums nationwide are around 16 percent lower than originally projected and about 95 percent of eligible uninsured live in states with lower-than-expected premiums.

The number of plans vary by where you live and which of the four tiers a person chooses: “bronze,” “silver,” “gold” or “platinum.”

The bronze plan covers 60 percent of expected costs, silver covers 70 percent, gold covers 80 percent and platinum covers 90 percent.

For instance, a Kansas family of four (defined as one 40-year-old adult, one 38-year-old adult and two children under the age of 18) with an income of $50,000, the second-lowest “silver package” would cost $619 before tax credit and $282 after tax credit; and the bronze package would cost $133 after tax credits.

There are 42 qualified health plans from three health insurance companies if you live in the Manhattan zip codes of 66502, 66503 and 66506. Some of the insurance will be offered at a lower price than the state’s weighted average.

If you live in the Pottawatomie County portion of 66502, the lowest priced package in each tier is cheaper than if you live in the Riley County portion of 66502.

From Oct. 1 through March 2014, there will be an enrollment period for the plans. Actual coverage begins as early as Jan. 1, 2014, when Americans will be required to carry health insurance or face fines.

Kansas residents will use the federal government’s marketplace website ( to apply for coverage, compare plans and enroll.

Even if you are insured through your job, you can use the marketplace website to determine if it would be cheaper to change insurance.

Kansas insurance commissioner Sandy Praeger has scheduled a series of meetings in September and October to discuss changes in health insurance, although no meetings are scheduled in Manhattan.

Specific prices will be available Oct. 1, but the health department report provided the lowest costs including the weighted average across an entire state.

The health department also provided costs for a 27-year-old, the age a person is required to have their own insurance.

For a 27-year-old in Kansas, the cost of the lowest package in each tier before tax credits would be $130 for the bronze package, $171 for the silver, $192 for the gold.

If that 27-year-old makes $25,000, the second-lowest silver package would cost $171 before tax credits and $145 after tax credits; and the bronze package would cost $104 after tax credits.

There is also a catastrophic tier for people under 30 and some people with limited incomes. The lowest-priced plan in that tier would cost $87 for a 27-year-old.

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