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Policyholders on federal health exchange pay average of $113 a month



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Individuals eligible for health care reform law premium subsidies paid, on average, just $113 a month for coverage purchased through the federal health insurance exchange, according to a report released Thursday.

Without those subsidies — available to uninsured individuals with incomes between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level up to $47,080 — the average monthly premium would have been $408, according to the Department of Health and Human Services report, which examined plans and costs in the 38 states, such as Texas and Florida, in which HHS operates the exchanges after those states declined to do so.

In all, 48% of enrollees selected coverage during the 2015 open enrollment season in which they paid — after federal subsidies — a monthly premium of less than $100, while 27% of enrollees opted for a plan that cost them $50 or less per month after the subsidy.

Eighty-three percent of the 8.5 million people who opted for coverage in the federal exchange from Nov. 1 through Dec. 26 were eligible for a premium subsidy to fully or partially offset the cost of coverage, according to the HHS report.

Among the 38 states, the biggest percentage reduction in premiums by those selecting coverage who were eligible for federal premium subsidies was in Alaska. In Alaska, the average premium of coverage selected through the exchange was $871 a month. On average, enrollees were eligible for a federal premium subsidy of $738 a month, which brought the monthly premium down to $133 a month, a reduction of 85%.

The legality of the premium subsidies was upheld last year when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected plaintiffs' arguments that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act limited the subsidies to individuals obtaining coverage in states that have set up their own exchanges.

Currently, just 13 states, including the District of Columbia, have exchanges.