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Michigan releases cost of health insurance plans

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By DAVID EGGERT
Associated Press

LANSING, Mich. (AP) -- The uninsured and others needing health insurance in Michigan have a dizzying array of options.

Information released by the state Tuesday shows no resident has fewer than 31 plans to choose from, and they can pick from multiple plans in each level of coverage: bronze, silver, gold and platinum. It is the first day to shop on Michigan's new insurance market created under the federal health care law.

Click the video player to get an explanation from FOX 2's Deena Centofanti and Ryan Sullivan from Michigan Consumers for Healthcare.

Before tax credits are applied, a benchmark silver plan for a 35-year-old nonsmoker in suburban Detroit covering 70 percent of medical costs ranges from $183 to $414 a month, depending on the insurer and the deductible owed before the plan starts picking up the bills. A 55-year-old nonsmoker's premium spans from $334 to $755 per month before tax subsidies.

A 35-year-old in the western and central Upper Peninsula cannot find a silver plan for less than $264 before tax credits -- or $481 for a 55-year-old. A bronze plan, the cheapest option for most unless they are under 30 and go with a skinny catastrophic plan, on average costs $275 a month.

People will pay dramatically different premiums depending on their income, family size, age, hometown and tobacco use. They will qualify for tax credits to offset premiums by making between 100 and 400 percent of the poverty line. That is an income of about $11,500 to $46,000 for an individual, or $23,000 to $94,000 for a family of four.

Buying insurance is likely to be a confusing process, especially because Michigan has more insurers than most participating in the exchange. Michigan Department of Insurance and Financial Services is urging residents to use its premium estimator at www.michigan.gov/hicap. To get a quote and enroll, consumers should apply at the federal website: www.healthcare.gov.

"Newly required coverages, mandated by the (Affordable Care Act), make it impossible to make a direct comparison between policies purchased on the marketplace and those purchased previously," DIFS Director Kevin Clinton said in a statement. "Consumers should look at all available options in this new health insurance landscape to determine which policy best fits their needs and works within their budget."

Only 320,000 Michigan residents now buy their own insurance. Others are covered by an employer, the government or are among 1.1 million with no insurance.

Republican lawmakers blocked GOP Gov. Rick Snyder's call for Michigan to run its new insurance market or at least partner with the federal government on some functions. Instead, the federal government has full control, leading Snyder to express concerns about glitches.

The state estimates 365,000 to 1.3 million people could sign up on the market in 2014. But the Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation at the University of Michigan projects just 127,000 enrollees next year, not counting workers who could be moved into the exchange by their employers.

The information released by the state includes premiums for smokers and nonsmokers ages 25, 35, 45 and 55 living in 16 geographic areas. Detailed information about the plans, including their cost-sharing requirements and the extent to which enrollees can see certain doctors, was not immediately available.

Residents in the Detroit-area counties of Wayne, Monroe, Macomb and Oakland have the most competition for their business with 55 plans available. Residents in western and central Upper Peninsula have the fewest at 31 plans. The totals do not include catastrophic plans for which tax subsidies are prohibited.

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