Insured in Colorado
I donâ€™t have a sob story. My family is healthy; weâ€™ve never been denied coverage. We are simply self-employed and want to stay that way. And paying for private, individual health insurance is an ongoing dilemma.
I wrote recently about my anticipation of finding a better deal on my stateâ€™s (Coloradoâ€™s) new health insurance exchange. On October 1, I went to the exchange site and started searching. It was decently designed and easy to use, but the first number that came up scared me: It was actually higher than my current premium of $569 a month (for a family deductible of $12,000).
Was I going to go through all of this and end up paying more? I guess Iâ€™m ill-informed, because it was only then I realized I was eligible for a subsidy: my familyâ€™s income is well below the threshold (400 percent of the poverty line).
I ran the numbers again. This time I found the same insurance I currently haveâ€”for $412 a month. In the new lingo of the state exchanges, this is known as â€śbronze levelâ€ť insurance. Previously, I knew it as â€śthe only affordable option.â€ť Now I can save $157 a month.
Or I can opt for better coverage instead of a lower premium. If I were to keep paying the same premium, our coverage would improve to â€śsilverâ€ť and the deductible would decrease to $6,000 a year.
Iâ€™ll admit that it makes me envious to look at the numbers reported from other states. Elisabeth Rosenthal is right: location makes a huge difference in what value you get for your money. But even here in Colorado, itâ€™s a start.
I didnâ€™t have to deal with the federal exchangeâ€™s major technical issues, but I did run into some glitches. The two systems I had to engage to complete the transactionâ€”the health exchange itself and the benefits programâ€”do not talk to each other yet, and it is not clear how to navigate from one to the other. But a well-informed and kind person at the other end of the help line walked me through it. (Thanks, Mickey, for not losing your cool.)