Signed into law in 2010, the health care reform initiative was intended to expand health insurance coverage and to improve the affordability of coverage in the U.S.
In 2010, nearly 16 percent of Americans — a whopping 48.6 million people — had no health insurance, says CNBC. That number has effectively been cut in half with the implementation of Obamacare.
But it’s not all good news. As the uninsured rate has continually dipped lower in recent years, the number of people enrolled in high-deductible health insurance plans has rapidly increased.
According to the Internal Revenue Service, a high-deductible private plan has an annual deductible of at least $1,300 and a maximum out-of-pocket expense of $6,550 for individuals. For families, high-deductible plans have an annual deductible of at least $2,600 and a maximum out-of-pocket expense of $13,100.
In 2010, 25.3 percent of nonelderly people with private health insurance were enrolled in a high-deductible plan. Fast-forward to today, and that number has increased to 40 percent. But CNBC says Obamacare isn’t the sole reason for the surge in higher-deductible insurance plan sign-ups, a trend that began before the law:
Plans sold on Affordable Care Act marketplaces often have higher deductibles than “group coverage” provided through employers. However, the trend toward higher-deductible plans began prior to the ACA, as insurers and employers try to limit premium price increases, and discourage unnecessary use of health services.
An Employee Benefit Research Institute study of a large, unnamed U.S. manufacturer with a high-deductible health plan found that workers who earned less than $50,000 averaged 1.5 visits to medical specialists a year. By contrast, those who earned $125,000 or more averaged 2.1 doctor visits annually. Paul Fronstin with the EBRI tells CNBC:
“People don’t understand how the plan works. Because of higher deductibles, lower income people cut corners on going to the physician.”
Some workers even skip preventative care visits, even though plans are required to cover some of those services with in-network providers at no cost to the insured.
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