More Obamacare Enrollees Buying Higher-Value Health Plans


More people are buying higher-value health plans for 2018, meaning they’ll pay less in out-of-pocket costs.

But people who make too much money to receive Affordable Care Act premium subsidies are increasingly dropping out of the individual market.

Those are the conclusions of executives and analysts following sign-ups during the Obamacare open enrollment period for 2018.

eHealth.com, an online brokerage company based in Mountain View, Calif., that typically signs up more than 100,000 people in plans that comply with the ACA, reports that half-way through the 2018 open enrollment period gold tier family plans have jumped from 12 percent to 18 percent compared with the same time period last year.

While eHealth is only allowed to report data on people enrolling outside of the Obamacare exchanges, the numbers may be indicative of the trend for 2018. President Donald Trump’s Oct. 12 decision to stop providing payments to health insurers that are required to reduce cost-sharing for low-income people under the ACA has led most carriers to increase silver-tier prices, on which premium subsidies are based.

That means people who qualify for subsidies, families with incomes from $24,600 to $98,400 for four people, can get extra money to buy gold plans, which cover more out-of-pocket expenses. Even for people who don’t qualify for the subsidies, gold tier plans may be priced about the same as silver tier plans in 2018.

But, “You have a tale of two cities out there,” Andrew Ratner, chief marketing officer of the Maryland Health Benefit Exchange, told me. Premiums are rising about 22 percent on average in 2018, after a similar jump for 2017.

That means people who don’t qualify for the subsidies are paying more for their coverage without government help. “We’ll see fewer of them signing up for health insurance,” Oliver Wyman actuary Kurt Giesa told me.

Open enrollment for 2018 lasts from Nov. 1 through Dec. 15.

Read my full article here.

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