Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina (the only insurer offering plans in all 100 counties) announced their premiums today, shown in the table below. Note, that these are the full premium, and do not show the price a consumer would actually pay given a subsidy that some will get based on their income. I am running today so don’t have time to do a great deal of analysis right now. However, the most important question to ask when thinking about these premiums is “as compared to what?”
From the press release, BCBS North Carolina says this about individual premiums:
“The ACA will make coverage available to many who have never had it and will enhance benefits for most consumers. These are good things, but they come at a cost,” said Patrick Getzen, BCBSNC vice president and chief actuary. “After the impact of subsidies, we expect about two-thirds of our individual customers will see the amount they pay for coverage increase similar to previous years – or they may pay less. The remaining one-third of our customers will see fairly substantial increases due to the requirements of the ACA.”
The main requirements that influence premiums are the ban on pre-existing conditions so people can purchase coverage regardless of their health, and the fact that the benefits required by the ACA are more expansive (cover more stuff) than some individual purchased plans in the past.
This News and Observer article does a pretty good job of walking through the purchase calculus for “young invincibles” and most importantly notes the cost that consumers will face after subsidies for a set of examples, which the table above does not do; it shows the full premium (which an individual would have to pay if their income is above 400% of poverty, but not if less). Here is a list of public events BCBS NC is holding to facilitate sign up (things like college football games, and the Fall NASCAR race in Charlotte in October). Here is their online purchase tool.
All this and the inevitable next round of yapping reminds me of what my granddaddy said once at a Church revival meeting that had run late. The visiting preacher said “Brother P.L. (my granddaddy) do you have a word for us? He said simply, “Preacher, there’s been enough said tonight, it is time to go home.”
In the same way, there has been enough said about what whether people will or won’t sign up for health insurance under the ACA. It is time we found out and we will do so starting October 1.
cross posted at freeforall