Millions leaving government insurance money on the table?

October 4, 2016 by Tom Murphy

Millions of Americans who bought individual health insurance outside the Affordable Care Act's public exchanges may be leaving money on the table if they skip those marketplaces again in picking 2017 coverage, a new report says.

The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 2.5 million who bought so-called off-exchange coverage for this year might have income levels that qualify them for tax credits to help pay the premium.

These marketplaces offer tax credits to customers with income levels up to four times the , or nearly $100,000 for a family of four. The lower the income, the more help a customer receives. But in order to receive a subsidy, the customer must by insurance through the exchanges.

HHS says several states, including California, Texas and Florida, have more than 100,000 people enrolled in off-exchange individual coverage who may qualify for help if they shopped on the exchanges.

Those who buy individual coverage without help—an estimated 6.9 million people according to the report— pay the full price of the policy. That can expose them to steep premium increases if they don't switch to a cheaper plan. Insurers in some markets have asked for premium hikes of well over 10 percent for 2017.

The HHS report, released Tuesday, doesn't estimate how much help these shoppers might receive if they used the exchanges. It also doesn't examine why they shopped outside the exchanges. In some cases, people may be buying a plan that isn't sold on a state-based exchange simply because they prefer that plan.

HHS also noted that while more than 9 million people receive assistance, may others remain unaware that they can receive help if they buy coverage through the exchanges.

The annual enrollment window for 2017 coverage begins November 1 and runs through next January.

Public exchanges are used by a minority of insured people in the U.S.; most insured people get coverage through employer-sponsored plans. But the exchanges have generated outsized financial losses for many insurers, and some have responded by abandoning those marketplaces in several states.

Insurers and the government have been trying to draw more people to the exchanges to stabilize these still-developing markets. They hope that if people are aware of the subsidies available on the exchange, they will use them to find coverage.

Explore further: ObamaCare buyers could have fewer choices in 2017

Related Stories

ObamaCare buyers could have fewer choices in 2017

May 2, 2016
(HealthDay)—With the nation's largest health insurer exiting all but a few Affordable Care Act exchanges next year, some Americans may be left with fewer choices and some might see higher monthly premiums.

Last chance to enroll in obamacare for 2015

February 12, 2015
(HealthDay)—Americans eligible for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) are facing an important deadline. This year's sign-up period ends Sunday, Feb. 15.

Affordable Care Act has improved access to health care, but disparities persist

August 30, 2016
Coral Gables, Fla. August 30, 2016 The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has substantially decreased the number of uninsured Americans and improved access to health care, though insurance affordability and disparities by geography, ...

HHS: marketplaces open new insurance options for consumers

June 6, 2013
(HealthDay)—Health Insurance Marketplaces, due to be introduced in October 2013, will increase the coverage options for many consumers, according to a memo released by the U.S. Department of Human & Health Services.

Wednesday is deadline for Feb. 1 coverage under ACA

January 14, 2014
(HealthDay)—There's still time to enroll in a health insurance plan through one of the Affordable Care Act's new online marketplaces. Those who sign up by Wednesday will have coverage starting next month.

2017 will bring premium rate increases under ACA

June 25, 2016
(HealthDay)—Health insurance premiums under the Affordable Care Act will rise in 2017, analysts and insurance brokers say.

Recommended for you

Blowing smoke? E-cigarettes might help smokers quit

July 26, 2017
People who used e-cigarettes were more likely to kick the habit than those who didn't, a new study found.

Brain disease seen in most football players in large report

July 25, 2017
Research on 202 former football players found evidence of a brain disease linked to repeated head blows in nearly all of them, from athletes in the National Football League, college and even high school.

Safety of medical devices not often evaluated by sex, age, or race

July 25, 2017
Researchers at Yale and the University of California-San Francisco have found that few medical devices are analyzed to consider the influence of their users' sex, age, or race on safety and effectiveness.

Why you should consider more than looks when choosing a fitness tracker

July 25, 2017
A UNSW study of five popular physical activity monitors, including Fitbit and Jawbone models, has found their accuracy differs with the speed of activity, and where they are worn.

Dog walking could be key to ensuring activity in later life

July 24, 2017
A new study has shown that regularly walking a dog boosts levels of physical activity in older people, especially during the winter.

Study finds 275,000 calls to poison control centers for dietary supplement exposures from 2000 through 2012

July 24, 2017
U.S. Poison Control Centers receive a call every 24 minutes, on average, regarding dietary supplement exposures, according to a new study from the Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Central Ohio Poison Center, ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.