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Cross-posted at The Makeshift Academic

One of the neat things about watching the major parts of the Affordable Care Act roll out over the past few weeks has been experience it both as a wonk-nerd/scholar and on a personal level. It's a good reminder that policy-making isn't just this thing that exists way out in Washington, but something that profoundly affects all of our lives, for better or for worse.

After a week of waiting out the initial craziness, I ventured on to Healthcare.gov last night to start pricing out options. I haven't signed up for anything yet, or created a formal application. I also suspect the prices will shift slightly to reflect my personal age instead of the large band the basic information section asks for. We'll see what happens when I navigate that part of the process.

Those caveats aside, the prices are a thing of beauty.

In Harris County, I have the option of 12 Bronze plans, 12 Silver plans, 12 gold plans and one platinum plan.

The Bronze plans run from $137 a month to $214 a month.
The Silver plans run from $195 to $256 a month.
Gold plans run from $233 to $312 a month.
The Platinum plan checks in at $283 a month.

Each plan has some differences as to what it covers and how it handles co-pays. They also have considerably different network types and sizes.

But these are EXTREMELY competitive prices.

Let's compare to the University of Michigan's employer-offered insurance. I suspect that most of these plans are probably on a Gold level, but at the very least they are on a Silver.

Premier Care: $511
HAP: $567
Blue Cross/Blue Shield: $597
Comprehensive Major Medical: $468
Grad Care: $239

All of these figures are for single people, and do not include UM's employer contribution or any subsidies on the Federal exchanges -- it's the full monthly premium. For example, employees on Premier Care who earn less than $50,000 pay $32 a month, while based on my 2013 income (assuming I make the poverty line), I would get roughly $185 in federal subsidies to spend on insurance every month, meaning I would pay about $20 for the second-lowest Silver plan.

One factor that makes UM plans look a bit less competitive is that the covered risk pool is older than the price quoted for 34-year-old me on the exchanges, which will raise UM's prices somewhat. However, it's heartening to note that the exchange plans are still fairly competitive even with Grad Care, which covers Graduate Student Instructors and Graduate Student Research Assistants and is essentially Premier Care with a much healthier risk pool and a constrained network.

It's amazing what a bit of regulated competition will do to a dysfunctional individual insurance market. There are still demons lurking in the details (one of which I'll discuss soon), but this Obamacare thing looks like it's going to work.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Today I managed to create an account on... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fake Irishman, FloridaSNMOM

    the Maryland exchange after about the 5th or 6th try since last week. Now every time I try to view the various plan details it either freezes or it just loops on the same pages.

    I'm not paranoid or anything. Everyone just thinks I am.

    by Jim Riggs on Thu Oct 10, 2013 at 02:40:24 PM PDT

  •  I found a difference of over $150 a month (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fake Irishman, FloridaSNMOM

    between the group plan I was in as a school retiree allowed to remain in the group and the best platinum plan in my part of NY.  There will be no dental or vision on the new plan, but there is no deductible and the co-pays are better.  The network of providers is almost exactly the same. The prescription prices are slightly higher.  Definitely a net win to go with the exchange plan in January.

    If love could have saved you, you would have lived forever. & http://www.dailykos.com/blog/Okiciyap

    by weck on Thu Oct 10, 2013 at 02:44:29 PM PDT

    •  NY is certainly getting helped (0+ / 0-)

      The individual mandate was the piece that was missing in NY's individual insurance market. With that in the regulated exchange, prices came way down all around.  Glad you're getting some relief.

      •  Bill Maher's shout-fest last night, the CNBC hack (0+ / 0-)

        wanted to delay the individual mandate for a year, knowing full well that would crater Obamacare! All the pre-existing condition insureds would sign up and all the healthy 20-somethings would roll the dice for 2014. Result: insurance companies run for the hills or make those "unhealthy" risks pay a massive premium (how dare you have asthma!).

        BTW, the same idiot spouted the Rand Paul nonsense that federal revenues of $250 billion/month could easily pay the bond interest of $20 billion/month. "Honey, I've decided from now on to pay the mortgage first out of my salary so we'll never default! All our other creditors will just have to wait until I get a raise - electricity, gas/heating oil, groceries, car payments. Gee, this economics stuff is so easy."

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