Brenda Major (L), who said she had a pre-existing condition that made it impossible to find insurance that would cover her until the Affordable Care Act, is examined by Dr. Fernanda Mercade during a routine checkup at the Jessie Trice Center for Community Health clinic on March 22, 2012 in Miami, Fla. Prices for Obama's health exchange packages are out today.

Starting next week, federally run exchanges under Obamacare will officially roll out in 36 states. We just got our first detailed look at the premiums that will be offered in the federally run healthcare exchanges.

The report from the Department of Health and Human Services uses the example of a healthy 27-year-old. He or she would pay $163 a month, on average, for the basic 'bronze' plan and $240 a month for 'gold' coverage, the most comprehensive plan. President Obama said in a speech yesterday that those rates were 'less than the cost of your cell phone bill.'

JB Silvers is a professor of Healthcare Finance at Case Western Reserve’s Weatherhead School of Management.  He says he’s impressed by the rates.

“I’m actually surprised they’re coming in so well. They’re very competitive and they definitely will save consumers money,” he says. 

Silvers says part of the reason for those low rates is competition, because insurance companies “have looked at this big block of new business and found it irresistible.”

Still, the plan is not without its critics. The Manhattan Institute found that young men will pay nearly double what they would for coverage and young women as much as 60 percent more, part of the idea being that young, healthy customers will help subsidize people who have pre-existing conditions and wouldn’t be able to get coverage otherwise.

About the author

Stacey Vanek Smith is a senior reporter for Marketplace, where she covers banking, consumer finance, housing and advertising.

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