Today NC Blue Cross announced  the range of premiums for different plans that it will be offering in NC’s new federal health care marketplace. These are premiums for comprehensive health plans with no lifetime or annual limits, no extra charges for pre-exisiting health conditions or being a woman, and with comprehensive coverage of everything from prescription drugs to having a baby. In short, real quality health coverage.
The NC Blue Cross “sticker price” premiums are in line with the “lower than expected” premiums announced in other states for their health marketplaces when I compare them to the premiums listed in a Kaiser Family Foundation study looking at 18 other states  that came out today.
Remember that the “sticker price” premiums NC Blue Cross announced today and in other states are reduced significantly by federal tax credits available in the health marketplace to many middle and lower income people. For example, a family of four making less than $88,000 a year will qualify for some tax credit. As NC Blue Cross notes in its press release, for some of the very lowest income people, premiums can be as low as $19 a month. Or, for example, a single person making $25,000 a year can buy a health plan for $97 a month or less.
Two quick points: First, Even though premiums are OK in NC, I will note that in states that have set up their own health care marketplaces there are significantly more health plans participating and more competition. For example, Maryland has at least six plans to our two. Second, if NC were to expand Medicaid, it is clear that we all would have lower premiums since we would be covering the care of people we now all pay for in tacked on charges to our premiums because of the uncompensated care someone who is uninsured receives.