White House Touting Lower Than Expected Prices Of Health Plans

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WASHINGTON, (UPI) —  With the new federal health exchanges due to open next week, the Obama administration has put the spotlight on costs it says are lower than earlier estimates.

In a new report, the White House said the average premium nationally for a “silver plan” covering 70 percent of medical costs would be $328 a month for an individual, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

A 27-year-old woman will be able to get “high-quality health insurance for less than the cost of your telephone bill,” President Obama said at a New York healthcare forum.

The actual rates will vary by state and even by region, the report said. Monthly premiums for a family of four with an income of $50,000 a year purchasing the second-cheapest plan would range from $600 in Arizona to $859 in New Hampshire and $1,069 in Mississippi.

Within certain states, premiums could vary widely. In New York City, for example, coverage might cost $611 a month, while the same coverage by the same provider in Rochester would run $337.

Many specifics about the plans will not be available until the exchanges open on Oct. 1. The report did not identify insurance companies that would offer policies or give any information about more expensive policies.

Most people buying insurance through the exchanges could receive premium subsidies through tax credits.

The federal government will operate the exchanges in 36 states, where an average of 53 health plans will be offered, said Gary M. Cohen, director of the federal Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight.

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