Study: Premiums could rise an average of 40 percent under ObamaCare

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Democrats say many of the meager policies on the market today give people a false sense of security — they think they have health insurance, but their policies don't actually cover the services they're most likely to need, even in an emergency.

Republicans argue that forcing consumers to purchase different plans violates President Obama's pledge that people who like their healthcare coverage can keep it. The changes impose higher costs on those who can least afford it, critics say.

Most people who see their premiums rise will get help from the federal government to help cover the additional costs, according to Thursday's survey, which was conducted by the Milliman consulting firm on behalf of Center Forward.

The healthcare law establishes new insurance exchanges in each state. The exchanges are primarily for people who buy coverage on their own, rather than purchasing insurance through an employer. 

People in the individual market currently tend to choose policies that don't offer much coverage and carry high out-of-pocket costs for the services they do cover, according to Milliman's research. 

The firm analyzed the individual markets in six states with varying degrees of regulation already in place. In New Jersey, where insurance is already highly regulated, the healthcare law won't lead to much of a premium hike at all — in fact, consumers could see their costs fall by as much as 25 percent.

But in states that don't already restrict meager insurance policies, the healthcare law could have a bigger impact. In Florida and Ohio, premiums for one of the cheapest individual policies allowed under ObamaCare could cost upwards of 50 percent more than the more bare-bones plans available now.

Across the six states studied, 40 to 60 percent of people on the individual market will be eligible for subsidies to help offset the cost of insurance, Milliman found.

The law provides subsidies, based on income, to help cover premiums, as well as separate subsidies to defray out-of-pocket costs. Even if underlying premiums rise, many people will see their own costs fall because of the help they'll get from subsidies, Milliman said.