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HHS Releases New Details About 2014 Marketplace Premiums, Subsidies

Federal officials on Wednesday released new data about who enrolled in the federal health marketplace plans for 2014, how much the law’s subsidies helped offset the cost and how many plans people from could choose from, among other details.

“What we’re finding is that the marketplace is working. Consumers have more choices and they’re paying less for their premiums,” newly installed Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell said in a statement.

The report was one in a series of ongoing updates from HHS about enrollment in the online exchanges or marketplaces. Federal officials have said more than 8 million people signed up for coverage under the health law. The document analyzed trends in the 36 states where the federal government is running the online marketplace, or exchange. It did not include similar data for the 14 states and the District of Columbia that are running their own exchanges because the data is not available, according to the report.

The document did not include data on how many people who enrolled in coverage have actually paid their premiums, which they must do before coverage begins. Some critics of the program have suggested that many people signing up for coverage have not paid for it and shouldn’t be considered part of the 8 million touted by the government.

Key points include:

— Individuals who enrolled in the health law’s “silver” plans – the most popular in the federal marketplace – and qualified for tax subsidies to help finance coverage paid average monthly premiums of $69.

— Just under 70 percent of enrollees who picked a plan with tax credits had monthly premiums of $100  and 46 percent had premiums of $50 or less. Eighteen percent of consumers who qualified for tax credits had monthly premiums of $150 or more.

— Across all plan types – platinum, gold, silver and bronze – people who selected plans with tax subsidies saw their share of the premium decrease 76 percent, from $346 to $82 monthly.

— Consumers could choose coverage from an average of five health insurers and 47 plans. Eighty-two percent of people had 3 or more companies to choose from.

— No matter what level of coverage consumers selected on the federal exchange, they tended to pick the plans with the lowest premiums. The lowest or second-lowest plan accounted for 60 percent or more of plan selections in the bronze, silver and platinum metal levels, 54 percent in the gold metal level and 93 percent in the catastrophic level.

— While 266 insurers offered more than 19,000 plans across the country, the number of insurers in any particular state varied, with a low of one insurer in New Hampshire and West Virginia to a high of 16 in New York.

“Early reports from the states suggest that additional issuers will be entering the marketplace in 2015,” according to the report, but the process is ongoing and preliminary rate submissions could change.