ORLANDO, Fla. - One of the most important questions people who remain uninsured have is, "How much is health coverage going to cost me?"
WFTV’s Vanessa Welch went out and tried to get a handle on the costs central Floridians might expect to see under the new law and the government assistance now available to many who qualify.
As many others have discovered, Welch found that the Affordable Care Act created a virtual marketplace where consumers can buy private and subsidized health insurance.
On the website Healthcare.gov, you can compare plans and determine monthly costs.
“It was really incredible what they found for us,” said Daniel Lewis.
Lewis and his wife have health insurance for the first time in eight years. Under the new law, they will pay $222 a month.
“It means health care we can be able to afford,” Lewis told Welch.
The federal government is paying part of the Lewis's monthly premium through a subsidy or tax credit.
“I’m really grateful,” Lewis said.
You might qualify, too.
Here's an estimate of how the tax credit might help a family of four in Orange County: If that family earns less than $32,500 a year, it could qualify for free coverage. Earning $40,000 a year, the family would qualify for a $361tax credit and a monthly payment of about $64.
Making $70,000 a year, a family would qualify for a $248 tax credit and a monthly payment of about $398.
And at $90,000, the family of four would qualify for an $85 tax credit and a $561 monthly payment.
“Even with the subsidies, this is still a stretch for some people,” Welch told Jon Urbanek, Florida Blue’s Senior Vice President for Commercial Markets.
“We’ve heard individuals say even at this, this represents a car payment for me,” Urbanek said.
Urbanek added that your out-of-pocket costs also depend largely on the health plan category you choose.
“The lowest level is bronze. And then silver is a value. It’s a bit higher than that. Gold is higher than that. Platinum is the highest benefits,” Urbanek explained.
Let’s start with bronze: It has the lowest premiums, but it only pays 60 percent of your health care costs.
Experts said you should pick this plan if you are healthy and do not expect many visits to the doctor’s office.
The silver, gold and platinum plans have progressively higher premiums, but they also cover more of your costs.
Pick platinum if you have a chronic health condition.
Confused? Don’t worry. Navigators like Rosaly Guzman can help.
“You will get the same quality of care in any of those categories,” Guzman said.
If you don’t sign up for insurance and you're not covered by your employer, generally speaking, you will be fined.
“Most people, when they look at what they would pay in premiums versus what the total penalty is, the penalty doesn’t really seem to be a deterrent,” Urbanek said.
In 2014, the penalty is 1percent of your yearly income or $95 per person, whichever is greater. But that fine increases every year, and it more than doubles by the year 2016.
For more information regarding the health care law and how it impacts you, go to HealthCare.gov or call 800-318-2596.