Obamacare, health status, and how much you pay

I just spoke to my health plan. They told me that after January 2014, for their bronze, gold, silver and platinum plans I’ll still have to go through underwriting, and they will charge higher premiums for pre-existing conditions.

It was my understanding that in 2014, Obamacare meant one’s health history would not affect their premiums. Am I wrong?


Dear Wondering,

You are correct.  Under health reform, an insurer can base your rates (for individual and small group plans) on your age, your family size, your geographic region, and whether you smoke.  Health status or pre-existing conditions are not allowed to weigh in to the rate you pay.

Your health plan probably has not trained its call center staff on all of the changes coming up.  For a source of accurate information, try Healthcare.gov’s Key Features of The Law web page.  On that page, you can click on various topics and get a good summary.

Linda Riddell

About Linda Riddell

A published author and health policy analyst with 25 years’ experience, Linda Riddell's goal is to alleviate the widespread ailment of not knowing what your health plan can do for you.