I’m 51 years old and buy my own health insurance. I’m horrified that Obama won re-election, and that the Supreme Court didn’t strike down Obamacare. How will it affect my plan and how much I pay?
Expecting the Worst
Dear Expecting the Worst,
Health reform has thousands of moving parts, which may have a positive or negative effect on the cost for health insurance. Let’s focus on the things that will have a direct effect on the rate you pay as an individual buyer.
At 51, you are closer to the top end of the insurer’s age bands. (Still a spring chicken, I’m sure but for an insurer, you would be considered older.) Under health reform, insurers can charge older people up to three times as much as they charge the youngest adults (age 21). Before reform, insurers could charge older people much more than three times their rate for young adults. So it’s possible that you might pay less in 2014 or you might have a smaller increase than years past.
The other effect you might see in 2014 is a change in what your plan covers. Rules are coming out to clarify what “essential health benefits” are. The original law was a little vague on this point. Your plan may need to adjust what it covers, so that it covers all of the essentials on the list. Otherwise, your plan would not save you from the penalty.
I could go on and on about other impacts you might see, but these two are the most obvious ones.