On Tuesday, if all goes according to plan, the federal health law's marketplaces for individual health insurance are scheduled to open for business.
Nearly all Americans will be required to have health insurance starting Jan. 1, 2014, or else they'll be liable for a tax penalty.
Even now, there is quite a bit of confusion about the law and how it will work. The administration has even enlisted former President Bill Clinton to serve as the law's explainer in chief.
On the eve of the marketplaces' planned opening, many people aren't sure if they'll qualify for subsidized insurance. Many also have no clear idea of how much their insurance tab would run.
If you've asked yourself, "How much will Obamacare cost me?" We can help you find the answer.
Enter your ZIP code, income, age, family size and a few other factors into the calculator to get subsidy estimates and insurance premiums available for coverage sold on the marketplaces, or exchanges, once enrollment begins.
The calculator makes use of premium data from 46 states plus the District of Columbia. The remaining four states (Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York and Vermont) either set premiums using different formulas or haven't provided data yet.
As states release details about the insurance plans that will be offered in their exchanges, Kaiser and NPR will update the calculator.
MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
Regardless of what happens on Capitol Hill, the Affordable Care Act healthcare marketplaces are set to open for business tomorrow. NPR's Julie Rovner joins me in the studio with the latest. Hi, Julie.
JULIE ROVNER, BYLINE: Hey, Melissa.
BLOCK: And I gather that this afternoon, officials announced that there are a number of new plans being added to the list of plans that people can choose from when they go to the exchanges tomorrow. What can you tell us about these plans?
ROVNER: Right. These are about 150 additional Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans that will be offered in 30 states and the District of Columbia. Some of which will have national networks of doctors and hospitals. These are in addition to the plans and prices the administration unveiled last week for the 36 states where it's going to be running the exchanges in full or in part.
BLOCK: And when those exchanges open tomorrow, one main question they should be able to answer for people is, how much is this going to cost me?
ROVNER: That's right. And we still can't tell you exactly what you'll pay under the law. It's going to depend on a lot of different things like your age, where you live, how many people are in your family. But with the help of our colleagues at the Kaiser Family Foundation, we can tell you if you're maybe eligible for government help paying premiums if you buy insurance at the new health exchanges and, if so, how much help you might be able to expect.
BLOCK: Right. And the Kaiser Family Foundation has put together a subsidy calculator. How does it work?
ROVNER: Well, it's pretty simple. You can find it on our website at npr.org/shots, and you can just plug in some basic information: your state, zip code, age, family size and income. You know, the administration is expecting about 7 million people to sign up for coverage through the exchanges this first year, an estimated 6 million of those people are expected to be eligible for some kind of government help. You can get it if your income is as high as four times the poverty level. So let's try it.
BLOCK: OK. So we've plugged in a hypothetical family of three from Miami, Florida, with an income of $45,000 a year, one child under the age of 20. And, Julie, here's what I'm looking at. This is an estimate, I gather. This family is said to be at 230 percent of the poverty level. Health insurance would cost maybe $6,600. About half of that would be paid for by the family. The other half would be covered by the government. Again, a rough estimate.
ROVNER: That's right. And, you know, when the exchanges open, you'll have to get on your state's website and compare the number of plans that there are to see the actual prices. But this will give you an idea of how big a discount off those sticker prices you might be able to get. Now, we've been warned that one of the most common computer glitches that states are seeing is the ability to apply these discounts to those sticker prices. So tomorrow when the prices do go online, you might have to wait a bit to see exactly what you'd pay. But meanwhile, this calculator will let you do some rough math.
BLOCK: OK. Julie, thanks.
ROVNER: Thank you.
BLOCK: It's NPR's health policy correspondent, Julie Rovner.
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