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Monday, 09 Dec 2013 09:44 AM
By Courtney Coren

Health Overhaul TexasNow that more individuals are able to enroll in plans through the improved Obamacare website, they are discovering that the lower insurance premiums mean more out-of-pocket costs that many may not be able to afford.

The deductibles are averaging $5,081 per year for the minimal coverage Bronze plans on the HealthCare.gov website in 34 of the 36 states on the federal exchange. That’s 42 percent higher than the $3,589 deductible individual plans in 2013. For a couple or a family, deductibles may be as high as $12,700, The Wall Street Journal reports.

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In comparison, the average deductible is $1,135 for those who are still able to take advantage of health insurance plans through their employer.

“Deductibles for many plans in the insurance exchanges are pretty high,” Stan Dorn, health policy expert at the Urban Institute, told The New York Times. “These plans are more generous than what’s prevalent in the current individual insurance market, but significantly less generous than most employer-sponsored insurance.”

A study done at University of Chicago research group NORC, found that 65 percent of group plans offered by employers would fall under the gold or platinum category offered by Obamacare. However, 84 percent of insurance plans purchased by individuals provide coverage equal to the bronze level of Obamacare or less.

The new health care law does provide deductible “cost-sharing” subsidies for individuals who earn up to 2.5 times the poverty level, which is about $28,725, for those who purchase one of the “silver” plans, but there is no “cost sharing” available for bronze plans.

“Consumers are giving up cost-sharing reductions of enormous value if they enroll in a bronze plan because it has the lowest premium,” Dorn said, adding that the government hasn’t really educated Americans on this difference in the two plans.

Plans on the healthcare exchange are categorized as bronze, silver, gold and platinum, with the idea that the coverage will be more generous with each level, but premiums increase as the plan benefits increase.

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Consumers will have to decide if they want to take advantage of the lower premiums offered by the bronze plans or pay more but receive a subsidy if they qualify under the higher level plans.

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