Buying health insurance through the new online federal marketplace will cost less than predicted, according to new data released this morning by the Obama administration, CNNMoney reported.

 

The national average premium for the benchmark plan will be $328 a month before subsidies, 16 percent less than projected by the Congressional Budget Office. The benchmark rate is the second-lowest-cost "silver" policy for 48 states, upon which federal subsidies are based. By comparison, the average rate for a silver plan in Iowa is $287, according to a comparison of premiums released today.

 

The long-awaited release of the premium rates also details for the first time what individuals will pay on the 36 state-based marketplaces, or exchanges, that the federal government will fully or partly run. States that are operating their own exchanges have been revealing their rates over the past few months.

 

The Iowa Insurance Division late last week published rates for the Iowa Healthcare Marketplace, providing a first look at what will be available from each of the six carriers and broken out for regions of the state. According to a list of sample premiums, average monthly rates for a silver plan in Polk County would range from as low as $173 for a 21-year-old nonsmoker, to nearly $915 a month for a 62-year-old smoker.

 

Monthly premiums for a family of four with an annual income of $50,000 will vary widely across the country. In Iowa, according to the new federal report, that family's premium would cost $683 per month. By comparison, a silver plan will average $600 in Arizona, $800 in Georgia, $961 in Indiana, $1,069 in Mississippi, $859 in New Hampshire, $943 in New Jersey and $656 in Utah.

 

However, the data provided only a partial picture of the reality that consumers will face, The New York Times reported.  

 

The government did not identify the insurance companies offering policies in the federal marketplaces, also known as exchanges. Nor did it provide any information about the many policies that will cost more than the amounts cited in its report. Such information will not be available until the exchanges open on Oct. 1, federal health officials said.