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For Full-Pay Customers, 2019 Health Bills Look Awful

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A web broker has some early, rough data on how much its customers are actually paying for unsubsidizied individual major medical coverage for 2019.

The web broker, eHealth Inc., says its customers are actually paying $574 per month for the 2019 coverage purchased from Nov. 1 through Nov. 7, up 21% from the 2018 average.

The average monthly premium for family coverage has increased 10%, to $1,310.

(Related: ACA Public Exchanges Lurch Back Open)

The individual major medical open enrollment period for 2019 started Nov. 1 in most of the country and is set to run until Dec. 15.

Customers who earn less than 400% of the federal poverty level may be able to qualify for federal premium tax credit subsidies; customers who earn more have to pay the full list price for the coverage.

The eHealth premium increase does not necessarily reflect a change in the cost of comparable coverage, because eHealth did not try to adjust the price change figures for changes in the average age of the customer, the type of coverage purchased, or other factors other than the base rate of the coverage.

The company notes that the average age of first-week individual major medical purchasers has increased to 46, from 40 last year, and that first-week customers purchased more mid-level silver plans, and fewer bare-bones bronze plans, than they purchased during the first week of the open enrollment period for 2018.

The company also found signs of pressure in the short-term medical insurance.

The average monthly premium for short-term medical insurance fell slightly, to $110, from $111, but the average individual short-term medical deductible increased 10%, to $5,680.

Every ACA-compliant individual major medical policy has to provide unlimited annual and lifetime benefits for covered “essential health benefits.”

Short-term medical policies can provide different levels of benefits.

Aside from the deductible figure, the eHealth activity report does not include any information about the value of the benefits included in the short-term medical policies sold, either for this year or for the comparable year-earlier period.

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