FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — The majority of Floridians who purchased health plans through the Affordable Care Act will actually see their out-of-pocket costs decrease, especially in big cities such as Miami and Orlando, according to senior White House officials. That’s the opposite of what state officials, under Republican Gov. Rick Scott, said earlier this week.
Analyzing rates for the 2015 health plans sold through President Barack Obama’s law can be tricky and politicians on both sides are eager to use the figures as evidence of the law’s success or failure. Both the state and federal officials said Wednesday that the other’s figures were misleading. Both sides were unclear on how the other arrived at their figures.
An estimated 75 percent of Floridians live in areas where the second-lowest cost silver premium will actually decline, Tasha Bradley, a spokeswoman for the federal Department of Health and Human Services told The Associated Press. Their analysis shows the cost of that silver plan will decrease by 6 percent in Miami, 12 percent in Orlando and 17 percent in West Palm Beach.
Federal health officials only based their analysis on the cost of second-lowest priced silver plan. That’s because 73 percent of the nearly 1 million plans purchased in Florida this past year were silver plans. It’s also the most common plan nationwide because the subsidy tax credit is based on the cost of second-lowest priced silver plan.
The state said Monday that consumers could expect an average premium increase of 13 percent in 2015. State officials calculated the average of premiums for all plans, bronze, silver, gold and platinum to arrive at the figure, giving more weight to insurance companies with more enrollees and higher population areas.
“Any assertion that overall rates are going down in Florida is false,” according to a statement from Florida’s Office of Insurance Regulation. “Changes in the second lowest silver plan within a county is not likely to be representative of the average premium change within that county.”
Federal officials said they weighted each county by its population when analyzing the figures instead of a statewide average. The premiums for silver plans in some areas will increase, but the feds said in big cities where enrollment was robust and where multiple insurance companies competed to drive down costs, they may decrease.
Nearly 1 million Floridians signed up for health plans in the inaugural year of the law also known as Obamacare and 91 percent received a subsidy to help pay their monthly premiums. Subsidies are determined by a complex formula that factors in a customer’s age, income and zip code.
Several insurance companies did raise their rates in Florida. Of the 11 returning plans, eight filed average rate increases ranging from 11 to 23 percent, and three filed rate decreases ranging from 5 to 12 percent, according to the state.
Health insurance rates have risen as much as 20 or 30 percent in recent years. Critics of the health overhaul have seized on rate increases as a signal they say shows the law isn’t working.(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
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