LITTLE ROCK (KATV) – The premium rates for health insurance plans to be sold on the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace were released on Monday. Rates are approximately ten percent lower than what was projected by the Society of Actuaries.
The rates and how much people are actually expected to pay are a bit confusing for some. Details surrounding deductibles and co-pays still aren't available for review and most likely will not be until enrollment begins on October 1. But for many Arkansans, the sticker price for premiums and what people will actually pay are two very different numbers.
Lanaylia Hardin's $7.50 per hour job barely lets her get by, let alone afford healthcare. Come next year, the Affordable Healthcare Act (Obamacare) will require her to have it and that had her concerned.
"One day I hear the president's passing the law," said Hardin. "Two weeks later I hear you have until October 1st to get it or you're fixing to be fined through the IRS."
Arkansans will actually have until January 1, 2014 to be signed up with a health insurance policy before being fined.
Hardin looked at the premium list released on Monday, and she was shocked by how much it looked like she would have to pay. A basic premium for a non-smoker her age was just over $300 per month. Her reaction and the reaction of many, "I'm just struggling now as it is."
But then Hardin was made aware of the tax credits Arkansans are set to receive for the premiums released on Monday. The premium tax credits are based on a person or family's income.
For an individual 30 years old, the average premium runs about $284 per month. But if that 30 year old makes roughly $15,000 per year, they would only end up paying roughly 13% of that $284. And for Hardin, someone close to the poverty line, she would be eligible for Medicaid which would subsidize her premium and she would pay nothing.
"They're taking each individual earning bracket and looking at the income to where you're not making me do without gas or food," said Hardin.
But Hardin said she would appreciate something like a town hall to explain these tax credits and premium benefits to her. Hardin admits she wouldn't have understood them if they weren't explained to her and she probably wouldn't have seen this information either.
"There's a lot of people that work below the poverty line that don't have internet access," said Hardin.
For more information on having your insurance premiums explained to you go to arhealthconnector.org or call (855) 283-3483. Arkansas Health Connector is a free service to help explain your health insurance options.