See also: “Health Insurance Marketplaces Offer More Low-Cost Options than Ever Before” by Emily Gee
The Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplaces recently opened for 2018 enrollment. In most states, consumers have from November 1 until December 15 to switch plans or select new coverage, and more consumers will have low-cost plan options available in 2018 than ever before. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), 80 percent of HealthCare.gov consumers can find coverage for $75 or less next year. The Center for American Progress finds that a significant number of consumers will have options that include a 2018 net premium—the premium after accounting for any premium tax credits—that is less than $10 or even free.
The ACA’s premium tax credits cap the amount that subsidized enrollees pay toward coverage, thereby shielding eligible consumers from premium increases. Premiums and tax credits for marketplace coverage depend on enrollee location, age, and family income. To illustrate how the marketplace’s financial help can generate extremely low-priced options, CAP calculated premiums net of tax credits for 2018 coverage for three example households:
- A single 27-year-old with an income of $25,000
- A 55-year-old couple with an income of $40,000
- A family of four, consisting of parents ages 38 and 40 plus two children under age 15, with an income of $60,000
For each household, this map shows whether the lowest-price plan available in each county is less than $20, less than $10, or $0 per month after applicable tax credits.
In some states, the children within the example family of four may be eligible for coverage through Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) rather than for marketplace tax credits. In the 17 states where the children are potentially eligible for Medicaid or separate CHIP coverage, the map shading is based on the net premium to cover only the two parents. CAP’s earlier version of premium estimates used the simplifying assumption that all household members would be eligible for premium tax credits.
By default, the HealthCare.gov website displays plans sorted by net premium. However, people who wish to minimize their total costs for care will also need to consider plan networks, deductibles, and other out-of-pocket costs; in some cases, they may be better off paying more for a silver- or gold-tier plan rather than picking the lowest-cost bronze plan.
To view a full-size version of the interactive, click here.
Emily Gee is the health economist of Health Policy at the Center for American Progress.
The author would like to acknowledge Mat Brady for his contribution to this product.