WASHINGTON – Arizona residents are signing up for the Affordable Care Act’s top-shelf gold- and platinum-level insurance plans at some of the highest rates in the nation, new government figures show.
The Department of Health and Human Services reported this week that 41 percent of Arizonans who had enrolled under Obamacare by Dec. 28 had signed up for the gold or platinum plans. That compares to a national average of about 20 percent for those two plan levels.
The state’s residents are leaning toward the higher-priced plans even though they have been relatively lukewarm in general when it comes to enrolling for health care under the ACA.
The 27,943 Arizonans who were enrolled on Dec. 28 represent about 0.43 percent of the state’s 6.55 million residents, compared to a national enrollment rate of about 0.69 percent, according to the HHS data.
Pati Urias said affordability might be one reason Arizona residents are opting for the upper-end plans.
“Our plans are priced cheaper,” said Urias, the Arizona communications lead for Enroll America, a nonprofit that helps people sign up for health coverage available under the ACA.
Urias said Pima County has some of the lowest-cost policies in the country for health insurance plans. She added that competition is a huge factor, noting that some Arizonans have more than 100 plans they can choose from.
David Aguirre, health marketplace coordinator for the Greater Phoenix Urban League, said he could not point to any one reason for people selecting gold- or platinum-level plans. But he speculated that subsidies that are provided based on income and family size might make the higher-level plans affordable for some.
The HHS report, released Monday, said that Arizona had the lowest rate of individuals getting a subsidy for their insurance plan – at 68 percent – among states like Arizona where the insurance marketplaces are run or supported by the federal government.
Urias said the number of people in Arizona who qualify for financial assistance could have been reduced by the state’s relatively low premiums. But she noted that two-thirds of individuals enrolled is still a significant number.
Despite the higher intial cost, Urias said a gold- or platinum-level plan can help save money in the long run for people with recurring medical needs, because it provides more comprehensive coverage. Gold-level plans pay for 80 percent of covered costs, and platinum-level plans pay for 90 percent of covered costs.
The majority of individuals nationally – and 48 percent of Arizonans – selected silver-level plans, which pay for 70 percent of covered costs. But those plans come with lower premiums than gold- and platinum-level plans.
Only Massachusetts, North Dakota, Kentucky and the District of Columbia had higher shares of high-end plan purchasers than Arizona. In the District, 49 percent of enrollees opted for a gold or platinum plan, while 44 percent in Massachusetts did so and 42 percent of Kentuckians did.
North Dakota does not offer a platinum plan, but 44 percent of enrollees there opted for the top plan, gold.
In addition to platinum, gold and silver, the insurance marketplaces offer low-cost bronze-level plans, which cover 60 percent of costs, and bare-bones catastrophic coverage.
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Water tips to save money, help save the Earth
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food
- 5 spring cleaning spots everyone forgets
- 5 reasons to look forward to watching the D-backs this season
- Common virus attributed to spike in head and neck cancers
- 5 signs it’s time to end your timeshare ownership
- 3 most overlooked ways to keep your home healthy
- 6 ways the air in your home could be making you sick
- CrossFit dangers: 5 common injuries and how to deal with them
- Today's radiation treatments offer better success, fewer side effects
- Tips to make watching TV on the patio even better
- What really happens when you donate to a community college?
- Sun and skin cancer: Separating fact from fiction
- 5 critical lifestyle changes for a healthy colon
- What you need to know about Alzheimer's disease in Arizona
- Spring clean your windows like a pro with these 8 tips
- 7 films that should have won best-picture Oscars
- New plumbing technology saves money and improves your home
- Survey shows Arizona CFOs optimistic about 2016
- How chronic pain can affect your love life
- 5 potential warning signs about your child's development