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Obamacare subsidies 

Plans may cost less than you think.

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The Arkansas Insurance Department released prices earlier this week for the new Obamacare plans that will be sold on the Arkansas Health Insurance Marketplace. But don't just look at the sticker price — for many, the premium prices will be reduced automatically by subsidies.

WHO ARE THESE PLANS FOR? Only for people who buy their own private insurance or are currently uninsured, NOT for people that get insurance from their employer or through a public program like Medicare or the existing Medicaid program.

WHO GETS SUBSIDIES? Subsidies are available on a sliding scale to people between 139 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level (approximately $15,000 to $46,000 for an individual, or $31,000 to $94,000 for a family of four). People above 400 FPL will have to pay the full sticker price.

THE "PRIVATE OPTION": People below 139 percent FPL will choose among certain plans on the marketplace and pay zero premiums, via the "private option" for Medicaid expansion.

MANY PEOPLE SHOPPING ON THE MARKETPLACE WON'T PAY STICKER PRICE:

• Around 87 percent of uninsured adults eligible to shop on the Marketplace will be eligible for subsidies (95 percent if we include the "private option" folks).

• Around half of those currently buying their own private insurance (and 70 percent of young adults currently buying their own private insurance) will be eligible.

HOW DO YOU CALCULATE RATES? Each individual in a family unit has his or her own premium price. So to find out the price for our family of four below, we have to add up the premiums for mom, dad, and the two kids. You can see all the rates here: arktimes.com/rates.

• The Duggar Rule. Okay, we made up that name, but only the three oldest kids get counted in a family's premium price. Any kids after that do not add to the premium.

HOW DO YOU CALCULATE SUBSIDIES? Subsidies are based on income level and family size and are benchmarked to the second-cheapest Silver plan. Subsidies can be used for a more expensive plan, in which case you may pay more than your "expected family contribution." Or they can be used for a less expensive plan, in which case you'll pay less.

In the image above are three examples of people in Central Arkansas: a 30-year-old individual, a married 60-year-old couple, and a family of four: mom and dad are 40 and they have two kids. We looked at the cheapest Bronze and cheapest Silver plans available in Central Arkansas — what's the sticker price and what's the price after subsidies?

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