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Fed is pleased with Florida's new Obamacare plans

 6a00d83451b26169e2019aff52f42c970d-800wiNavigatos at the Epilipsy Foundation of Florida in Doral study up for Oct. 1, when they will assist people with enrolling in the healthcare marketplace./Patricia Borns photo

When the healthcare marketplace rolls out on Oct.1, Florida's 3.8 million uninsured will have more choices than residents of almost any other state. The 11 carriers who chose to participate in the exchange submitted 102 plans to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid for approval. Only Arizona has more plans. 

The markeptplace plans, named for metals -- bronze, silver, gold and platinum -- will offer the same 10 essential benefits, and preventive care such as physicals and mammograms must be delivered at no out of pocket cost. 

Nationwide, the insurance premiums for Obamacare health plans should come in about 16 percent lower than the government expected. with the average individual on a middle-tier plan paying $328 a month before tax credits. In Florida, a 27-year-old making $25,000 a year would, on average, pay a $218 monthly premium on the same health plan.

“Florida rates have actually come in quite well,” said Gary Cohen, director of the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, in a conference call with reporters and Obama’s top health official, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Average monthly premiums in Miami-Dade County would range from as low as $72 a month after tax credits for a family of four earning $50,000 a year that opts for a low-cost plan to $799 for the same family on a middle-tier plan without tax credits. In Broward County, a family of four would pay $24 a month with tax credits for the low-cost plan and $722 a month for the middle-tier coverage without tax credits.

But Wednesday’s report fails to provide an under-the-hood look at what the insurance plans will offer — provider networks or deductibles or co-payments or any other coverage details. 

What should you expect?

In general, the health benefits of plans sold on and off the exchange are expected to be richer than in the past because of the Affordable Care Act's requirements. But to deliver those benefits at an affordable price, the choice of providers for subsidized plans sold on the marketplace will be smaller.

While the plans will be easy to compare on the marketplae website, healthcare.gov, consumers will need to do their homework to make sure the plan offers the hospitals and doctors they want, and any specific medications they need. 

Karen Egozi, CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation of Florida, which received a federal "navigator" grant to assist Floridians with the marketplace, said that providing one-on-one assistance to people who've never had health insurance will be important for the marketplace's success. 

"If someone comes to me with epilepsy and says, 'I need to see a neurologist, and these are the meds I take,' we would be explaining which plans will let them see a specialist, which ones support their medications, and what they cost. Then they can decide what's best for them," Egozi said. Read the story.





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