Poll: Many still struggle to pay health premiums

Most people who signed up under President Barack Obama's health care law rate their new insurance highly, but a substantial number are struggling with the cost, according to a poll released Thursday.
AP Wire
Jun 20, 2014

 

The survey from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation provides findings that both sides in the health care debate can seize on. It's an ambitious look at people who buy their coverage individually; they're the ones most affected by the Affordable Care Act.

"The critics' view of the law as an unmitigated disaster is far from true, but it's not what advocates might have hoped for either because many people still have concerns about affordability," said Drew Altman, CEO of the foundation, an information clearinghouse about the health care system.

The poll found that Obama's law is achieving one of its main goals by covering the uninsured. Fifty-seven percent of the 8 million people who bought a plan through the new insurance exchanges were previously uninsured.

But greater access to coverage has come at a price that's uncomfortably steep for many.

Despite the availability of generous subsidies, 4 in 10 of those who bought a plan that meets the law's specifications said they had difficulty paying their monthly premiums. That's a sobering reality check on assertions by the Obama administration that coverage is readily affordable.

Overall, employer coverage got much better ratings in the poll than did health law plans, which are meant for self-employed people and workers without access through their jobs.

The survey looked at several groups of people in the individual health care market:

—those who bought plans in the new insurance exchanges.

—those who bought plans outside the exchanges that nonetheless complied with the law's specifications.

—people who switched from previous coverage, either because it was canceled or they found a better deal.

—those who were able to keep the plan that they had before.

Since just the start of this year, the health law has come to dominate the individual insurance market.

The poll found that 68 percent of people purchasing their own coverage are enrolled in plans that comply with the law's standards. But those same consumers are divided about the law's impact. Roughly similar shares say have benefited (34 percent) as report being negatively affected (29 percent).

Among other findings:

—7 in 10 rate their new coverage as excellent or good. That compares with 85 percent of those covered by employer plans and 85 percent of those who kept their previous individual coverage.

—63 percent of those covered by health law plans said they are confident they will be able to pay for routine medical care. Enrollees were divided about paying for a major illness or accident, with 52 percent expressing confidence and 46 percent saying they were not too confident or not at all confident.

—Plan switchers, meaning those who found a better deal or whose previous coverage was canceled, were divided on the cost of their new premiums. Taking into account subsidies, 46 percent said that their premiums are lower now. But 39 percent reported higher premiums. Plan switchers were less likely to be satisfied with costs, perhaps because nearly half of them had their previous plan canceled. The wave of cancellations last fall was a major political problem for the White House.

—People who bought coverage through the insurance exchanges were more likely to be in poor health, a potentially significant finding for its impact on future premiums. Twenty percent reported their health as fair or poor, compared with 6 percent of those who were able to remain in their old plan.

The survey was based on telephone interviews conducted from April 3 through May 11, among a nationally representative random sample of 742 adults ages 18-64 who purchased their own insurance. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 4 percentage points for results based on the full sample, 5 percentage points for those in plans that comply with the health law, and 6 percentage points for those in plans bought through the exchanges.

Kaiser Family Foundation survey — http://tinyurl.com/q79sz3n

Comments

Lanivan

According to CBS News Money Watch, "for many Americans the health-insurance plans bought under the new government program are fairly affordable. Almost seven out of 10 people who bought plans through federally run marketplaces and who receive tax credits are paying monthly premiums of less than $100, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said on Wednesday. The study doesn't include data from the 14 states that operate their own insurance marketplaces."

Obamacare was created as a way to provide more competition and lower prices for workers who did not get insurance through their employers. The program's main mechanism for helping people afford coverage are tax credits based on income, with the government providing an average credit of $264 per month.

The tax credits helped lower the average monthly premium to $82, with credits reducing the per-person premium by three-quarters, the government study found. Overall, 69 percent of people buying plans with tax credits are paying less than $100 per month.

About 5.4 million Americans bought health insurance through a federally run marketplace. The share of U.S. residents without health coverage has dropped to its lowest rate since 2008, according to Gallup.

Not all states around the U.S. offer the same rates or number of competing plans, however. On average, consumers have five issuers and 47 marketplace plans to pick from, but about 18 percent of the population only had access to one or two issuers, the study found.

More issuers could mean lower pricing, according to the health agency, noting that the second-lowest cost silver plan premium declined 4 percent in cost for each additional health insurer.

Average costs ranged from a high of $127 per month for New Jersey residents to a low of $15 per month for Mississippi residents.

Free markets at work.

Lanivan

By the way, Trib Team, the accompanying photo is a little....risque? creepy? fantasy?

Barry Soetoro

Heh heh. I was going to comment on that pic and set an over-under on the time of moderation. At least Nurse Goodbody is smiling, too.

I'm glad you found that article from See B.S. to set the record straight (once again).

Lanivan

LOL...the look on that guy's face - totally devoid of even a hint of pain or suffering - is priceless! Of all the images of an appropriate medical setting Our Trib Team could choose, this is the one that made the cut, for the love of Pete.

I just try to do my fair share.....

Tri-cities realist

"—7 in 10 rate their new coverage as excellent or good. That compares with 85 percent of those covered by employer plans and 85 percent of those who kept their previous individual coverage."

For the apparently math challenged among us, 7 of 10 is 70% which is less than 85%. So people are less satisfied with their new Obamacare plans, and this is somehow hailed as a success? Spreading mediocrity, that is the progressive Obama way!

"Despite the availability of generous subsidies, 4 in 10 of those who bought a plan that meets the law's specifications said they had difficulty paying their monthly premiums. That's a sobering reality check on assertions by the Obama administration that coverage is readily affordable." What is the formal name of the legislation? Whatever the govt names something, the result is usually the opposite.

Lanivan

It should be sobering to realize that for many people today, a monthly premium of even $82. is a lot of money and tough to add to the budget. Of course, if you are accustomed to getting your health care for free at the ER, and letting the taxpayers pay for it via federal payments to hospitals (a Reagan plan)for uncollected costs, then we are just enabling the freeloaders who have a choice, and choose to be uninsured.

And then there are those who could easily afford insurance premiums of $82., but don't on principle, just because they are invincible and no dam government is going to tell them to buy insurance. Of course, these are often the same who refuse to wear motorcycle helmets or seat belts, and end up with enormous medical bills after an accident that someone has to pay.

Zegota

How many Seniors today have seen healthcare premiums jump, or how many working class members have seen there healthcare premiums also jump. If they are lucky to have Healthcare. Not to mention the extra charges for facility rental that is now appearing on medical statements from there physicians, my healthcare costs have almost doubled.
Once you include the runaway charges for the medical visits, blood work, and the ridiculous medical facility rental charge allowed under the new Medicare billing practice.
Obama Care is just wrong, and will costs us all much more in the end, because the hidden charges are yet still to hit us, not to mention the social challenges. Healthcare premiums are expected to hit us hard next year, at around 20% increase, thank you Obama, not!

bearcub286

Zegota, or anyone got a better idea.....just asking.

newsblogger

http://rsc.scalise.house.gov/sol... Actually.. yes.. the republicans have had a better idea all along but the liberals and democrats kept that hidden from the public view by stating the republicans only wanted to see people suffer.

Lanivan

Which Republican idea are you talking about? Obamacare - the conservative Heritage Foundation plan created in 1989, and promoted the heck out of by Republican congressmen in the early 90's, and then implemented by Mitt Romney in Massachusetts before Obama used it as a basis fro Obamacare, or the more recent "idea" put out by the GOP that basically:

1. It would kick millions of Americans off of their health plans.

2. It dismantles many of Obamacare’s core consumer protections.

3. It does almost nothing for Americans with pre-existing conditions.

4. It would make millions pay more for their employer coverage.

5. It provides fewer subsidies to help Americans buy health care.

In other words, it supports business, especially the insurance business, but does practically nothing for people, especially poor, sick people. And as each month goes by and the reports coming out show continued Obamacare successes, signups, and a better understanding by people of how it works and how it helps them with their basic health care, the Republican "idea" has about as much chance of gaining momentum as pigs can fly.

skyking007

Lives are being saved. People who could not get insurance can. I am thankful that President Obama helped get coverage for so many. Costs of insurance are not the Presidents fault. Greedy drug companies are still the cause. You want health care costs to go down? Get rid of the greed in the medical field.

happycamper

I had several medications that were not made in the Us, one was made in Europe and the other came from Canada and you can be sure once they hit the US border the markup begins, just last month i had a medication that insurance decided they were not going to pay for, i asked how much cash would i need to pick up and they told me $750.00, i had to scrape my jaw off the kitchen table, but they did find a generic for me, wew !!!!

Tri-cities realist

Perhaps the greed in the medical field to which you refer, comes from the lawyers and those filing frivolous lawsuits which drives up cost.

And do you like the thought of new and innovative drugs, or should we have stopped after discovering penicillin? Research and development is expensive. Perhaps you should educate yourself before just blaming the big pharma. If you don't like what they do, stop buying their product.

Lanivan

Before you get too carried away re: Big Pharma R&D....

Pharmaceutical Companies Spend 19 Times More on Self-Promotion Than Basic Research.

Prescription drug companies aren't putting a lot of resources toward new, groundbreaking medication, according to a recent report in BMJ, a medical journal based in London. Instead, it's more profitable for them to simply to create a bunch of products that are only slightly different from drugs already on the market, the reports authors said.

The authors go on to say that for every dollar pharmaceutical companies spend on "basic research," $19 goes toward promotion and marketing.

And apparently it's been working. Drug company revenues climbed more than $200 billion in the years between 1995 and 2010, according to the website MinnPost. Meanwhile, in recent years, more than one in five Americans age 50 and up have had to cut down on their dosages or switch to cheaper generic drugs because the cost of medication is so high.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/20...

trekking

It needs some work, but we were the only economically developed country that did not have some kind os universal health care. It is needed, but need tweaking.

skyking007

The Realist is happy paying more for health care than other countries and thinks the drug companies are charging a fair price. I think we could get lower prices if we all worked together. That is what makes America Great. I wonder how many people will lose their homes trying to stay Alive?

Tri-cities realist

Kumbaya kumbaya....

 

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