Miami-Dade County

Obamacare coverage available for $100 per month or less in Florida, feds say

A computer is ready to be used to help people purchase insurance under the Affordable Care Act at a kiosk for Sunshine Life & Health Advisors at the Mall of Americas last year.
A computer is ready to be used to help people purchase insurance under the Affordable Care Act at a kiosk for Sunshine Life & Health Advisors at the Mall of Americas last year. Getty Images

More than 80 percent of Floridians who signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act can buy coverage for $100 or less in monthly premiums after receiving tax credits, according to a report released Thursday by the federal government.

The report examined the options available to people signing up for coverage in 2015. Some consumers may choose more expensive plans that offer better benefits and lower deductibles.

About nine in ten Floridians received federal financial assistance in 2014 to help cover the cost of their premiums.

“The Health Insurance Marketplace is open for business, and Florida consumers have affordable choices for renewing their coverage and signing up for the first time,” said U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell in a statement.

About 303,000 Americans signed up for coverage in the second week of open enrollment, according to federal statistics, bringing the national total to more than 765,000. State figures were not available.

Enrollment ends Feb. 15.

The HHS report also examined changes in premium costs, which vary across each state by age and county of residence.

Unlike other parts of Florida, monthly premium for a popular type of plan will stay stable in Miami-Dade and Broward counties next year, according to HHS.

The report analyzed premium costs for a 27-year-old who signs up for the second least-expensive “silver,” or mid-range, plan in each county. Three in four Floridians chose silver plans in 2014.

In Miami-Dade, the price for the second least-expensive silver plan increased by two percent. In Broward, it declined by one percent. Other counties saw bigger increases, including Orange (six percent), Palm Beach (seven percent) and Hillsborough (21 percent). Monroe County is also seeing a significant jump in price, as the Miami Herald reported in November.

Healthcare advocates are encouraging people who signed up last year to shop around on this year for the best plan. Insurers are allowed to change premium prices and benefits from year to year.

Those who signed up last year will have their current plan — or a similar one if the old policy has been canceled — automatically renewed on Dec. 15.

The website ProPublica recently published an online tool that allows consumers to see how their plans will change next year.

Before the Affordable Care Act became law in 2010, consumers often saw annual premium increases in the double digits, said Steven Ullmann, director of the Center for Health Sector Management and Policy at the University of Miami.

“A lot of it had to do with significant increases in healthcare costs that were going on at the time,” Ullmann said.

In recent years, a combination of the recession and the health law appears to have slowed the growth in costs, he said.

National healthcare spending slowed from 4.1 percent growth in 2012 to 3.6 percent growth in 2013, according to a report released this week by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Follow @MHhealth for health news from South Florida and around the nation.

This article was produced in collaboration with Kaiser Health News, an editorially independent program of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

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