Consumers Find ACA Insurance Plans Affordable

Although a majority of adults with health insurance purchased through the Affordable Care Act's marketplace said they find it easy to afford the care they need, the number of people still enrolled has dipped to 7.3 million, according to recent numbers.

Although a majority of adults with health insurance purchased through the Affordable Care Act (ACA)’s marketplace said they find it easy to afford the care they need, the number of people still enrolled has dipped to 7.3 million, according to recent numbers.

A new report from the Commonwealth Fund found that 61% of adults paying premiums for ACA insurance said it was very or somewhat easy to afford them. Furthermore, more than two-thirds of adults low or moderate incomes are paying less than $125 a month for a single policy. More than half (52%) have deductibles of less than $1,000.

“The survey findings show that people with lower incomes are finding health insurance coverage through the marketplaces that is comparable to employer plans in affordability and cost-protection,” Sara Collins, Commonwealth Fund vice president for Health Care Coverage and Access and a co-author of the Are Americans Finding Affordable Coverage in the Health Insurance Marketplace? report, said in a statement. “The subsidies are doing what they were designed to do—make comprehensive coverage attainable for low- and moderate-income families without employer-based health insurance.”

However, employer-based coverage usually offers greater cost protection for people with higher incomes, according to the report.

“While the insurance market reforms have made it far easier for people without employer coverage to gain access to comprehensive benefits without being charged more based on their health status, employer-based insurance continues to be a better deal for people with higher incomes,” the authors wrote.

Although 62% of people rated their overall experience with the marketplace as fair or poor, a larger proportion (68%) is happy with the insurance plans they purchased. Seventy percent of people with marketplace insurance are confident they will be able to afford the care they need if they became seriously ill, compared with 81% of those on employer-based plans.

“While many people are dissatisfied with the shopping experience, most are happy with their marketplace health insurance, which for many offers better financial protection than what was often available in the individual market,” Commonwealth Fund President David Blumenthal, MD, said in a statement. “As we approach the second open enrollment period, it will be important to monitor how marketplaces are working for consumers.”

The Obama administration announced on Thursday that of the 8 million people who applied for plans through Healthcare.gov and the state exchanges, just 7.3 million people are still enrolled, according to The New York Times.

In a congressional hearing, CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said they were encouraged by the fact that the vast majority of people who signed up for coverage by the April deadline had still been paying premiums as of mid-August.

She added that the 700,000 consumers, representing 8.7% of people who picked plans, may have dropped their marketplace plans for a variety of reasons. For instance, since April they may have gotten employer-based insurance or found out they were eligible for Medicaid. Although there are also people who likely simply stopped paying and became uninsured.