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Vt. Is First State To Post Health Insurance Rates

By WILSON RING

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) â¿¿ Vermont became the first state in the country Monday to let people without health insurance see how much they could have to pay to get coverage through the federal health overhaul beginning next year.

The state released the proposed rates that would be charged for a variety of coverage levels through the state's health insurance marketplace. The rates range from an average high of about $1,700 a month for a family to an average of $745 for catastrophic coverage â¿¿ only available to people under age 30 â¿¿ for a family.

The raw figures don't take into account government subsidies that would lower the costs.

Examples provided by the state of Vermont show that a family of four with an annual income of $32,000 would end up paying $45 a month out of pocket. A single person with a $40,000 income would pay $317 a month. A small business that offers its seven employees catastrophic care with a $2,500 deductible would see its monthly cost reduced from $10,240 to $8,000.

"Everyone on the team is very excited to have a tangible sign of progress," said Robin Lunge, Vermont's health care reform director. "People have been working very hard behind the scenes" to have the marketplace, known as an exchange, operating by Oct. 1 so people can choose coverage that would start Jan. 1.

In one sense, the posting of the rates is symbolic, but it's a process that is due to repeated in every state, in one form or another, by the end of the year, said Andy Hyman, a senior program officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, who follows health care changes.

"It's a very exciting day," Hyman said Monday.

"More and more states over the next month or so are going to start doing this," Hyman said. "People need to be more prepared to talk about the details of the law, but it's also a good thing because it is getting people ready because when health plans are ready to actually sign people up, we want people to know about it, to be actually looking forward to the opportunity and to find the right way to enroll."

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