Enrollment In ObamaCare Dominated By Those With Lowest Incomes, Study Finds

Former senior White House adviser Doug Badger has analyzed the latest ObamaCare enrollment numbers and finds “only the poorest among the uninsured have so far signed up” because those in higher income categories find the coverage is just not worth the price.

In his blog post, “Obamacare: The More You Pay, The Less You Get,” Badger says the results of the Obamacare open season, which ended February 15, look encouraging on the surface: “Nearly 11.7 million people selected a plan this year, compared with just more than 8 million during the 2014 open season.”

But enrollment skews older as healthy young people are refusing the pay disproportionately high premiums that the exchanges try to extract from them. And the uninsured in middle-income categories also are largely uninterested in expensive ObamaCare insurance.

The result:  “Enrollment has been dominated by those with the lowest incomes.  HHS reports that 83 percent of people who have selected plans have incomes between 100 percent ($11,770) and 250 percent ($29,425) of the federal poverty level (FPL).

“Medicaid, meanwhile, has grown by nearly 20 percent since Obamacare was launched, swelling its ranks to 70 million. Roughly 22 percent of the U.S. population is now on Medicaid, despite the refusal of 22 states to expand their programs.”

Badger cites a recent Avalere study reinforcing his findings, showing that ObamaCare has “attracted the poor and near poor and holds little appeal for uninsured middle income people.”

He explains that the design of ObamaCare’s subsidies is the reason: “as premiums rise, the value of insurance coverage falls.”

Badger’s chart below tells the story, and we quote his explanation in detail.

Badger's Chart

The chart “presents the Avalere findings (red bars), which show the percentage of eligible people (by percent of FPL) who have enrolled in coverage. It also shows the combined cost of premiums and deductibles (green scale on the right) at various income levels for a 30-year-old individual (yellow line) and a 40-year-old couple (dark blue line).

“Unless the sum of premiums and deductibles is very low, most people don’t seem interested in health insurance,” he concludes.
The Avalere study is based on an analysis of healthcare.gov enrollment data.  Badger explains that he used healthcare.gov “to compile illustrative information on premiums and deductibles for a Blue Cross (PPO) Silver plan available in Mitchell County (KS).  Premiums and deductibles vary by plan and county, but the general trajectory of the yellow and dark blue lines would be similar for other plans in other counties throughout the country.

“Regardless of location or insurance product, Obamacare subsidies assure that people with the lowest incomes pay the smallest premiums and get the most generous coverage. Those who pay more for insurance get less generous coverage.”

Continue reading at: Forbes


About the author

Grace-Marie Turner is president of the Galen Institute, a public policy research organization that she founded in 1995 to promote an informed debate over free-market ideas for health reform. Full biography