ObamaCare was supposed to help the middle class find affordable healthcare. After all, they called it the Affordable Care Act.
For the most part the poor already had government assistance to get healthcare through Medicaid and CHIP plans for children. To be sure, ObamaCare expanded the eligibility for these programs and enrolled many just outside the poverty lines.
But it was the middle class that needed the most help with rising premiums and deductibles. Now that same middle class is heading for the exits as the cost of unsubsidized ObamaCare premiums has skyrocketed.
ObamaCare premiums are subsidized by the government for family incomes up to about $100,000 for a family of four. Those families making less than that receive generous subsidies that make the premiums easily affordable. Those families above that level of income must bear the full brunt of the rising premiums and deductibles.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently released a report on trends in the individual health insurance market. The message is clear – those who must pay the full cost of ObamaCare premiums are having no part of it. According to the Wall Street Journal editorial board, from 2016 to 2018, enrollment among those who didn’t qualify for subsidies dropped by 2.5 million people – a 40% declinenationally.
Average monthly enrollment across the entire individual market fell 7% between 2017 and 2018. CMS says the decline occurred “entirely” among people who didn’t receive subsidies. For those who get taxpayer help, enrollment increased 4%.
It gets worse in some states. Over the same two-year period, unsubsidized enrollment dropped by an astounding 91% in Iowa, 79% in Arizona, 78% in Nebraska, 76% in Tennessee, and 71% in Georgia and Oklahoma. CMS says the subsidized portion of the market was 122% greater than the unsubsidized market in 2018, up from 61% in 2017. The WSJ editorial board summarizes, “In other words, ObamaCare plans are increasingly valuable only to those who receive cash transfers to buy it.”
Why do polls show a slim majority of Americans approve of ObamaCare?
Only 4% of Americans are directly enrolled in ObamaCare plans – and most of those are receiving government subsidies. About 180 million Americans still receive their healthcare insurance through their employers and therefore have not felt the direct impact of rising premiums. However, they have suffered from delayed wage increases they might have received if their employer didn’t have to pay the rising cost of their healthcare premiums.
Therefore, most Americans are satisfied with their employer-provided healthcare insurance or their government-provided ObamaCare. The unfortunate minority are those middle class families who don’t receive their healthcare insurance from their employer and don’t qualify for the government subsidies. Those are the ones caught in the middle and heading for the ObamaCare exits as fast as they can run.