by David Safier
Want to know how much you, or anyone else, will pay for Obamacare premiums? Here's a great calculator from the Kaiser Family Foundation, which has been putting together lots of terrific information about how the new health care system will work. The actual cost of the health care is approximate because it will vary state by state, but the government subsidy a person or a family can get should be pretty accurate.
Say you're a family of 4, with two 30-something non-smoking adults and two kids, and you make $30,000 a year. If you're in Arizona or some other state that expanded Medicaid coverage (Thank you, Governor Brewer), you're covered. Without the Medicaid expansion, you could still get the lowest coverage, the Bronze plan, for free. The next level, the Silver plan, would cost about $600 a year, or $50 a month. Either way, you can't be denied for preexisting condidtions. That's as opposed to an estimated cost of $10,829 without the subsidy -- assuming you have no preexisting conditions that would make it impossible to get coverage. If the same family makes $40,000 a year, the Silver plan would run about $2,000 -- that's $167 per month -- or you could get the Bronze plan for $112 per year, or just under $10 a month.
The Bronze plan means more out-of-pocket costs if you get sick, or course, but it's got a yearly maximum, so a serious injury or grave illness won't put you hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. You'll be in a hole if you need lots of care, but it's one you can probably dig yourself out of without going into bankruptcy.
The size of the subsidy decreases as your income increases, and the cost of the plan increases as you get older. Also, you have a choice of Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum plans. The better the coverage, the higher the premiums.
There are lots of variables, but compared to today's insurance market, it's simplicity itself. And most important, you can't be denied coverage because you're most likely to use it, which is the perverse system we've had to live with until now.