Braniel under Obamacare, Part II

Neither the sticker shock (my initial research had me believing we’d pay $3,000 more a year) nor the promise of heady savings of Obamacare (it looks like we’ll pay $360 more a year for our 2-person household) has panned out.

We started the application process for health insurance under ACA on Tuesday, October 1. Today is Friday 10/4. Here’s the week’s condensed drama:

  • Monday — site was DOA
  • Tuesday — site was still DOA
  • Wednesday — site was on life support, but basically down
  • Thursday — improved vital signs, but site threw an error upon final submission. I was ready to die at this point. (Up side: this would save us 50% on our premium.)
  • Friday — works! Our application is accepted and I am now comparing plans.

I’ll dig into the details later, but here’s what I’ve gathered:

  • $479/month / what we currently pay Regence for our 2013 coverage—not through an employer (it’s private insurance).
  • $510/month / what we would pay under WA Health Benefit Exchange in 2014 for a Bronze plan that covers our current doctors (Polyclinic)
  • $580/month / or, we could go direct with Regence’s Bronze plan in 2014

The coverage appears to be better under ACA, but with slightly higher annual deductibles. On a related note, I’ve had two separate friends tell me that they’re applying for health insurance for the first time in their adult life. They are 30-ish and 45-ish and will most likely qualify for government subsidies for their monthly premium. Brangien and I both work and that pushes our household income past the government subsidy level. So, my totally unscientific, passive poll of friends tells me that we will pay a little more for better coverage and uninsured friends are jumping on the insurance train for the first time. Go society! On the honesty front, I would have been fine sticking with our current Regence coverage at $479/mo plan.

A few notes:

  • This confused me at first: WA Health Exchange is the board that runs the insurance exchange for the State. WA Health Planner is the administrative arm where you actually apply for coverage and compare plans (they’re like the clerk and the Exchange is the shop owner). It would clarify things for applicants if there was just one website.
  • If we go with WA Health Exchange, will the price go up or down over time? If rates increase, will they increase at a slower rate than our current coverage? (example: my portion of our current Regence coverage increased from $139/mo in 2012 to $164/mo in 2013)
  • Will the ACA encourage better insurance options from employers? If so, we may switch to an employer-based plan if a bronze plan is less expensive.
  • Dental insurance still seems like a scam to me (unless your employer pays for it).

I’m adding to this post with some more comparison information. Here’s how my current 2014 options compare:

$479/month / my current 2013 Regence Evolve HSA plan

  • $3,500 deductible, $5,000 max out-of-pocket (per person, so double for Brangien and me)
  • We pay 50% co-insurance from $3,500 to $5,000
  • Regence pays 100% from $5,000 to $2,000,000

$510/month / 2014 WA Health Benefit Exchange Premera Blue Cross Bronze plan

  • $5,250 deductible, $5,250 max out-of-pocket (per person, so double for Brangien and me) *
  • Premera pays everything above $5,250 (there is no annual limit)

$580/month / 2014 Regence’s Bronze plan

  • $5,000 deductible, $6,250 max out-of-pocket (per person, so double for Brangien and me) *
  • I pay 30% co-insurance from $5,000 to $6,250
  • Regence pays everything above $6,250 (there is no annual limit)

* note: if we go to out-of-network doctors or hospitals, the deductible doubles and we pay 50% co-insurance for everything after the deductible is reached (yikes!)

Dec 4, 2013 UPDATE
Regence sent us snail mail with updated (lower) rates for their Bronze plan. Our new monthly rate is:
$560/mo (that’s $279.48 /each for 45-year old non-smokers)

We have contacted an ACA Navigator who is gathering final figures on Bronze plans through Washington Health Plan Finder. The site is still buggy enough that I couldn’t complete the final plan selection process.

Pigeon and Pete: not covered under Obamacare.

Pigeon and Pete: not covered under Obamacare.

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