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The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, is credited with improving the affordability of insurance coverage for millions of Americans and driving down the uninsured rate to a record low 8.6 percent in 2016. But the ACA also is blamed for some Americans’ skyrocketing insurance premiums.
“I think it’s awful,” says 60-year-old Washington state resident Maggie Rikard in an interview with CNBC, describing her feelings about the massive insurance premium price hikes she has experienced in recent years.
Rikard paid $375 a month for a plan with a $2,500 deductible in 2014, says CNBC. Today, that same plan costs $600 per month, so Rikard opted for a lower cost plan — $471 a month — with a higher deductible ($5,000) for 2017.
Rikard says she “literally picked the cheapest plan there was” on eHealth’s private online insurance brokerage platform.
The Washington woman is one of millions of Americans who either don’t qualify — or opt not to apply — for the Obamacare subsidies designed to help people pay insurance premiums.
According to new report from eHealth, a private online health insurance marketplace offering coverage from more than 180 health insurance companies nationwide, many Americans who do not use the federal tax credits — either through choice or because they don’t qualify for them — have seen their insurance premiums go up over the past few years.
In fact, eHealth says that since 2014, the average premiums for individual health plans on its site have jumped 39 percent. The situation is worse for family plans, where premiums have jumped 49 percent since 2014. And they jumped 20 percent in just the last year.
“Middle-income Americans who purchase coverage on their own and do not qualify for subsidies under current law are straining under the burden of costs like these,” Scott Flanders, CEO of eHealth, tells CNBC.
Still, 83 percent of the 12.2 million Americans who chose an Obamacare plan during 2017’s open enrollment qualified for a subsidy to lower the out-of-pocket cost of their premium.
The ACA has been a hot-button topic since it was passed by Congress in 2010, with a long list of critics as well as supporters. Check out “5 Ways Obamacare Has Improved U.S. Health System.”
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