Friday, October 16, 2015

qotd: Financial barriers are slowing rate of enrollment in ACA plans

Department of Health and Human Services
October 15, 2015
How Many Individuals might Have Marketplace Coverage at the End of 2016?

Last year, the Secretary of Health and Human Services projected that 9.1
million consumers would be enrolled through the Marketplaces for
individual coverage at the end of 2015. We expect that figure to be the
starting point for the third open enrollment period.

We project that in 2016 the year-end effectuated enrollment will be 9.4
to 11.4 million. ASPE's analysis implies that most of the new
Marketplace enrollment for 2016 is likely to come from the ranks of the
uninsured, with more than three previously uninsured new enrollees for
each one new enrollee who previously had off-Marketplace individual


Department of Health and Human Services
October 15, 2015
Health Insurance Marketplace: Uninsured Populations Eligible to Enroll
for 2016
By Kenneth Finegold, Kelsey Avery, Bula Ghose, and Caryn Marks

People who are uninsured often experience financial barriers to coverage
and may place other priorities over obtaining health insurance.

* Only 26 percent of those who are uninsured say that they are doing
well financially. Nearly 80 percent have less than $1,000 in savings and
about half have less than $100 in savings.

* More than half of people who are uninsured feel financially insecure
and half had difficulty affording basic necessities such as food or
housing in the past year.

* When asked what they would do if they were to become better off
financially, many uninsured people say they would pay down their debt,
put money into savings, or make home or car repairs before buying health


Associated Press
October 15, 2015
Is Obama's Health Overhaul Losing Steam?
By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar

The health care law's historic gains in coverage may be leveling off:
The Obama administration announced Thursday it expects only a slight
overall increase in enrollment next year.

(Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell) said it's
getting harder to sign up the remaining uninsured. They tend to be
young, managing very tight household budgets, and often unaware they can
qualify for taxpayer-financed assistance with their premiums.

Some people who sign up for a plan don't follow through and pay their
first month's premiums. Others drop out because they can't afford even
their subsidized premiums.

A new research paper from the administration finds that nearly 60
percent of the uninsured were not aware or did not understand that
subsidies are available to help with their premiums. Half had difficulty
affording basic necessities. And many have other financial priorities -
such as paying down debt or making car repairs - before buying health

Getting and keeping coverage under Obama's law can be frustrating,
especially when it comes to documenting eligibility for benefits.
Insurance counselors say they are seeing many people whose subsidies
were completely eliminated because of income reporting problems.


Comment by Don McCanne

Out of a population of about 322 million, 32 million US residents remain
uninsured. Because of the complex eligibility requirements for various
insurance programs under the Affordable Care Act, there are many reasons
that so many remain uninsured. Regardless, this latest data from HHS
shows that the success in reducing the numbers who are uninsured is
leveling off, and one of the most important reasons is that the
Affordable Care Act did not make health insurance affordable for far too
many of us.

Four-fifths of the uninsured have less than $1,000 in savings. Half have
difficulty affording food or housing. Even if they had more money, many
would feel obligated to use it to pay down debt, or to repair their
homes, or to repair their automobiles that provide them transportation
for employment. They still wouldn't have enough left to purchase health

Yet when these people turn 65, they can afford Medicare. The program is
automatically funded, primarily through the tax system.

If we improved Medicare, funded it completely through progressive taxes,
and then provided it to everyone, not only would it be affordable for
all of us, none of us would ever have to make a decision on whether our
health care dollars needed to be used for food, housing or any other
essentials. Medicare would automatically always be there for all of us.

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