How much for that health insurance in the window?

That insurance in the window

We’ve been telling you for months, heck - years - that health insurance will cost less on the health insurance exchange.  But, exact numbers? Well, that’s hard to say.   We know there will be premium subsidies (tax credits), but it will depend on a lot of different factors: what your income is, where you live, what plan you choose, etc.  In fact, unless you qualify for Medicaid, you probably won’t really know what the cost of insurance will be until you log onto the New York State Health Benefit Exchange on October 1st.

But, until then, the estimates of health insurance costs are getting much better.   This is largely due to the release of the approved monthly health insurance rates  for Exchange plans a few weeks ago, and the genius subsidy calculator put out by Kaiser.  The calculator uses an estimate based on average insurance prices in the nation.  But, by logging into the subsidy calculator and punching in some basic information about your household, you can see what the maximum percentage of income your family is expected to pay for insurance.  You can then compare that to the cost of the 2nd lowest-cost silver plan in your area (available here).  If the annual cost amounts to more than the % of income you are expected to pay, then the difference will likely be the amount of your subsidy.  I say “likely” because it doesn’t factor in all of the variables that will be taken into consideration on the Exchange, but it’s still a good guess.  That subsidy amount can then be applied to the cost of any plan (platinum, gold, silver or bronze) to get a final price.

Of course, not everyone who wants to purchase insurance on the Exchange will be eligible for subsidies to lower the cost.  But, a new report by Kaiser estimates that as many as 48% of people now buying insurance on their own would be eligible.  Either way, its worth a shot to log into the Exchange after October 1st to see what you may be eligible for.  You might just be surprised!

Here is the page (you might want to bookmark it): 


Health Law Answers

The AARP today announced the availability of a new online tool designed to help people looking for information on the Affordable Care Act.  Its pretty neat and walks you through the changes that will affect you based on criteria you will select, as well as new benefits and options.  You can check the new tool out, called HealthLawAnswers, by clicking here.

This is part of AARP’s ongoing effort to educate people about the health care law by providing resources that are easy to understand.  AARP also created a sister website called to allow consumers to sort through hand easily find info on specific aspects of the law. A few weeks ago, New York held its first statewide enrollment summit for the New York State Health Benefit Exchange.  The purpose of this invitation-only event was twofold: to update stakeholders on the State’s progress and plans, and to gather feedback on how to maximize outreach and enrollment. Along with Exchange officials, we also heard from DDB and Ketchum, the two firms hired for the state’s media outreach campaign, Enroll America, and from an enrollment panel of brokers, facilitated enrollers, and advocates.  And, thanks to 1199 SEIU’s Health Care Education Project, we have video available of these parts of the enrollment summit.  This footage is broken into three parts, the first of which is above.  Click here for part 2 and part 3. The afternoon section focused on a break out session where the summit attendees were asked for their feedback on a number of questions primarily around existing exchange materials and a series of upcoming regional enrollment summits that will be held around the state.  Given the nature of these breakouts in different rooms, there is no video available.  However, I can report back that this was a highly interactive process and that each breakout group had members of the exchange staff there to take notes and ask questions.  Some highlights from my group included the need for input from non-English speaking people (not just bilingual), and appropriate materials in other languages.   Feedback collected at this event will go into producing the regional variations which are expected to happen in September. More on those later. We’ll keep you posted!


The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a series of state-based reports today on how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has been faring so far in the 50 states.  Specifically, the reports highlight the numbers associated with the new coverage options, health savings, and federal funding.

One interesting set of numbers I had not seen before was a demographic breakdown of uninsured New Yorkers who will be eligible for coverage through the forthcoming NYS Health Benefit Exchange.  As a whole, over 1.9 million uninsured will be eligible for coverage.  The vast majority of these, 1.4 million (74%), come from households with at least one full-time worker in the family.   So, primarily folks who make too much to qualify for public health insurance like Medicaid or Family Health Plus, but don’t get coverage through their employer and can’t currently afford to buy it on their own.  Importantly, 88% of those eligible will likely qualify for financial aid to purchase coverage on the Exchange, or Medicaid.

Here is the rest of the breakdown:

  • More than half (57%) are male
  • Slightly less than half (43%) are young adults 18 – 35 years old
  • 28% are Latino/Hispanic
  • 19% are African American
  • 9% are Asian American or Pacific Islander.

I’d be curious to know what the federal estimates are of LGBT New Yorkers who are eligible for coverage, since estimates we’ve seen put the rate of uninsurance among LGBT New Yorkers at 25%. But for now, this gives a good sense of how outreach around the Exchange may be targeted.

The report also includes numbers on New Yorkers who have already been helped by the ACA.  For example, 160,000 young adults in New York have already gained coverage under the law’s provision that lets parents keep their kids on their plans until age 26.  New Yorkers who have insurance have also gained.  More than 4 million New Yorkers with private insurance have also gained free preventive services.  People with Medicare have also saved nearly $516 million on prescription drugs since the laws enactment.

These are just a few tidbits.  To read the full report (it’s short) you can click here.