It's no secret that Obamacare's open-enrollment season starts Saturday—but the prices people will pay for 2015 health plans still are just dribbling out.
Federal officials have yet to publish, in easily accessible form, the full range of prices for Obamacare policies next year. But they began allowing customers to window-shop for plans in their area on HealthCare.gov, which covers about two-thirds of the country, this week.
That shopping function helped provide even more evidence this week that current Obamacare customers will, on average, face just modestly higher premiums next year for the most popular types of health plans.
And if those customers live in big cities in their state, they might be in for even better deals than what they now pay.
In 48 major cities across the U.S., the prices of key kinds of Obamacare plans will drop by an average of 0.2 percent, according to a new analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation. After factoring in the effect of federal subsidies that most Obamacare enrollees qualify for, average prices of those plans will drop 0.3 percent.
The plans that Kaiser examined are used to determine the amount of subsidy that a person gets to help pay for their premiums if they buy plans on government-run marketplaces such as HealthCare.gov.
Kaiser looked at what a 40-year-old nonsmoker earning $30,000 per year would pay for the second-lowest cost "silver" plan on an Obamacare exchange. Silver plans, which drew the most Obamacare enrollees last year, on average cover around 70 percent of health benefits—people have to pay for the rest of the medical costs out of pocket.
Kaiser analyst Cynthia Cox noted that what people actually pay for the new plans in 2015 is "really going to depend on where you live."
For example, in Anchorage, Alaska, Cox pointed out the cost of the second-lowest silver plan for the hypothetical 40-year-old will leap 28.4 percent, from $380 per month to $488 per month. After subsidies are factored in however, that person would pay just $164 of their own money, a $1 decrease.