Here’s what Washingtonians will pay under Obamacare

Wonkblog readers, meet Vince. He's a 27-year-old who lives right here in Washington, D.C. He has, from what I can tell, some pretty rocking hair. And, according to new data out Friday morning, Vince will spend $124 a month to buy health insurance under Obamacare.

Vince, as you've probably gathered by now, is not a real person. He's an example drawn up by the D.C. Department of Insurance, Securities and Banking to explain how much insurance will cost under the Affordable Care Act.

According to rates submitted to the DISB, health insurers will charge a 27-year-old in the District of Columbia from $124 to $341 to purchase his or her own health insurance policy.

For a 40-year-old, prices range from $166 to $457. And in the 55-year-old demographic, the range spans from $295 to $813.

These are the rates that the DISB released Friday, the first look at how much health coverage in the nation's capital will cost city residents under the Affordable Care Act.

While D.C.. officials described the rates as similar to those now offered in the individual market, they declined to say by what percent premiums will change between 2013 and 2014.

"We wouldn't put a percentage on it," DISB director Bill White told reporters. "We're saying there's not a significant difference in terms of the premium rates."

"You can go onto HealthCare.Gov, put in your information, and try and see the standard rates," Mila Kofman, director of the District of Columbia Health Benefits Exchange, said. "But just remember the standard rate is only available to healthy people. About one-third of people applying don't get that low rate."

I did just that, and found that as a 28-year-old female Washington resident I could purchase coverage for a monthly premium for $90 to $1,032.

As Kofman pointed out, those rates aren't accessible to everyone. HealthCare.Gov says that, for the $90-per-month plan sold by CareFirst, 54 percent of applicants are either rejected or charged a higher rate.

There will be three health insurance plans selling in the District's exchange, the same number that currently participate in the individual market. You can see the rates they want to charge consumers in this table provided by DISB. These rates are not final, as the District must review and approve the insurers' proposals.

While Kofman had told me she might be able to woo some Maryland carriers, that doesn't appear to have happened. Washington is a tough sell for insurance carriers because it has one of the smallest insurance markets in the country.

Another thing to keep in mind: These rates do not include the premium tax credits, which will go to lower- and middle-income D.C. residents who purchase on the health exchange. Never fear, though, the District has created Joyce, a 55-year-old woman who earns $28,750 and qualifies for federal help in purchasing health insurance.

 You can read more from the District on the rates here.

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Neil Irwin · June 7, 2013

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