Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
Obama’s health law will be judged on 3 questions


< Previous Page


Jeremy Gilchrist, a self-employed meteorologist from Winooski, Vt., has been uninsured about four years. In his mid-30s, he’s in good health, and he says he can’t afford premiums on a skimpy budget.

"For most people, it’s going to be a financial decision," Gilchrist said.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

According to the online Kaiser Family Foundation’s health reform subsidy calculator, Gilchrist would be eligible for a tax credit of nearly $2000 on a standard "silver" policy that costs $3,000, leaving him with $1,000 to pay.

But he can also take that $2,000 tax credit and use it to buy a cheaper policy called a "bronze" plan, leaving him with only about $500 to pay annually. The bronze plan meets the new requirement that virtually all people in the United States have health insurance. But if you get seriously sick or injured you’ll wind up paying more out of your own pocket.

Still, the premium would come to $42 a month for Gilchrist. "The bronze plan would be lower than my car insurance," he said.

But wait.

If Gilchrist were a smoker, which he is not, the law would allow insurers to tack on a penalty of up to 50 percent of the premium.

With time, the decisions of millions of individual consumers will reveal a true bottom line.

CHOICE

The typical Medicare recipient has about 30 private insurance plans from which to choose. There may not be nearly as much choice for families and individuals under the health care law. How much that will matter remains to be seen.


story continues below
story continues below

It’s partly because in most states a single insurance company currently controls more than half the market for individual coverage.

The administration says that’s going to change for the better. In three-quarters of the markets the federal government will run, there will be at least one new insurer.

But areas of concern are emerging. New Hampshire could end up with just one insurance company offering plans through the new marketplace. In 36 of Mississippi’s 82 counties, no insurer has yet signed up to offer coverage. Bigger states, however, don’t seem to be having problems attracting insurers.

"The individual market for 2014 will look a lot like the individual market today — one or a handful of carriers dominant in most states," said Larry Levitt, a leading expert with the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

But people will be able to move more easily from insurer to insurer, he added, which should bring more competitive pressure.

CONSUMER EXPERIENCE

For people without job-based coverage, shopping for insurance under the new system is supposed to be as smooth as using a major online site such as Travelocity or Expedia.

But in a recent report, the Government Accountability Office raised concerns about the sheer technological complexity of the task and the short time left to accomplish it.

The goal is for consumers to be able to find out the amount of the tax credit they’re entitled to and sign up for a plan in real time or close to it. For that to happen, the computer systems of several major federal agencies, the states and dozens of insurance companies have to be able to talk each other, and the information exchanged must be accurate.

Testing the connections is underway. "We really feel very much on target for Oct. 1 and ready for open enrollment," said Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, a top HHS official overseeing the rollout. "We are meeting critical implementation deadlines."

"My guess is some of these states are not going to be up and running on time," said Dan Maynard, president of Connecture, a health technology company building three marketplaces.

Next Page >


Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Login to the Electronic Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.