NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — An amazing deal or shockingly pricey?
That’s how CNNMoney readers are describing the insurance policies they are finding on the Obamacare exchanges, which opened for business on Tuesday.
Despite the technical glitches that have plagued the rollout this week, some consumers were able to see or even sign up for the policies being offered on the state-based exchanges for 2014. Some had been uninsured and were looking for coverage. Others were hoping to switch from expensive plans on the individual market.
Bryan Tackett, 33, was amazed at the choice of policies on the Washington, D.C., exchange. A contractor at a government relations firm, Tackett has been paying just under $400 a month for a Blue Cross Blue Shield plan with “not terrible, not great” coverage and a $1,500 deductible. But he enrolled in a gold Kaiser Permanente plan on the exchange that has no deductible and “good” co-pays. It includes dental benefits and an annual eye exam — all for about $270 a month.
“I didn’t think there would be that much of a differential between what the private market would offer me and what Obamacare would,” said Tackett, who is not eligible for a federal subsidy. “I was surprised, amazed and shocked, but pleasantly so.”
For Shaundra Smith-McKeithen, Obamacare could literally be a lifesaver. The 43-year-old single mom was laid off from her job as a quality manager at a hospital in May and is now uninsured. She’s run out of her blood pressure and depression medications and can’t afford to go to the doctor for checkups on her $330 weekly unemployment check.
Since the Savannah, Ga., resident qualifies for a subsidy, she can get a silver level plan for about $50 a month. While she’s not thrilled that she’ll have to shell out for deductibles and co-pays, she is relieved she’ll have coverage again soon.
“Being able to go to the doctor…it’s so worth it,” said Smith-McKeithen, who has not been able to get details on specific plans yet. “For me and my family, this will work out perfectly until I get a job and have other coverage.”
Others had more mixed or even negative reviews on the policies they’ve seen.
Margaret Hill has been shopping on the Maryland exchange for her unemployed brother, 53, who has hip issues but is uninsured. Since he qualifies for a subsidy, she’s found a Coventry One plan for him that could cost less than $25 a month. But she was put off by how much he’ll have to spend out of pocket. The Coventry One plan has a $1,500 deductible, and policies with lower costs are hundreds of dollars more.
“I didn’t realize the deductibles would be so high,” said Hill, who has coverage through her employer.
Still, her brother will sign up. “It’s better than what he has now, which is nothing,” she said.
But for Deb Hornbacher, 58, the high deductibles are just too much for her and her husband. While she’s enrolled in her employer’s plan, the Colorado couple can’t afford to extend the coverage to her husband, a self-employed carpenter.
So she was hoping to sign them both up for a plan on the exchange if they qualify for a federal subsidy. She found a bronze-level plan for roughly $357 a month, after their subsidy, which they could swing. But it comes with a $12,600 family deductible. (If they don’t qualify for a subsidy, they would pay nearly $1,275 on the exchange for that policy.)
“This is like a catastrophic plan, said Hornbacher, a public school nurse who pays more than $300 a month for coverage at work and will now look to add her husband for 2014. “I am totally shocked and taken aback at how little it did provide at the level I could afford.”