A USA Today report Thursday shows that the Affordable Care Act is anything but affordable in more than half of the counties in the 34 States where eligible buyers must purchase insurance through Healthcare.gov, the Federal government’s online insurance marketplace.
According to the analysis, more than half of the counties on the exchange don’t even offer customers a basic bronze-level health care plan. Among the color tiers that denote insurance plans that run the gamut from affordable to luxurious, the low-tier bronze plans are regarded as the cheapest, in part because they require higher copays and have higher maximum payout limits that customers must meet each year before the insurance plan kicks in.
“More than half of the counties in 34 states using the federal health insurance exchange lack even a bronze plan that’s affordable — by the government’s own definition — for 40-year-old couples who make just a little too much for financial assistance,” the piece reports:
Many of these counties are in rural, less populous areas that already had limited choice and pricey plans, but many others are heavily populated, such as Bergen County, N.J., and Philadelphia and Milwaukee counties.
More than a third don’t offer an affordable plan in the four tiers of coverage known as bronze, silver, gold or platinum for people buying individual plans who are 50 or older and ineligible for subsidies.
…”The ACA was not designed to reduce costs or, the law’s name notwithstanding, to make health insurance coverage affordable for the vast majority of Americans,” says health care consultant Kip Piper, a former government and insurance industry official. “The law uses taxpayer dollars to lower costs for the low-income uninsured but it also increases costs overall and shifts costs within the marketplace.”
The newspaper considered whether premiums for the most affordable insurance plan, at any “color” level, amounted to more than 8 percent of an eligible customer’s annual household income – a method similar to that employed by the government to calculate whether people are eligible to opt out of buying coverage under Obamacare based on their ability to cover the cost of the premiums they’d have to pay.
“[T]he analysis clearly shows how the sticker shock hitting many in the middle class, including the self-employed and early retirees, isn’t just a perception problem,” the paper found. “The lack of counties with affordable plans means many middle-class people will either opt out of insurance or pay too much to buy it.”