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ObamacareThe Affordable Care Act (ACA) is expected to expand the health insurance coverage to an estimated 30 – 34 million people in the US. According to a new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation, about 6 out of 10 people who had enrolled in medical insurance schemes via the Affordable Care Act exchanges were already uninsured. The poll offers a comprehensive view of the insurance background soon after the first open enrollment period.

The majority of the uninsured population did not have coverage for about 2 years. The survey cited “affordability” as a major problem for people to buy their health benefit plans even though a good majority of people received financial subsidies from the federal government to pay their premiums.

As per official data, 85% of people (who had selected health plans via federal and state exchanges) were eligible for federal subsidies. Moreover, some people had lost their policies as their plans did not match with policy standards of ACA.

The findings signify the potential impact of Obamacare’s coverage expansion in the individual health insurance market. The research findings were based on telephone interviews involving a random sample of 742 people in the age group of 18 to 64 years who had purchased their own policies. The key findings of the survey are mentioned below –

  • It was found that the healthcare law had impacted people in the individual insurance market in different ways. About 34% of people said their families had benefitted in a positive way whereas 62% of people said that they didn’t have any positive benefits.
  • While analyzing the percentage of people who had been “negatively affected” by the law 29% said “YES” and 66% said “NO”.
  • People most likely to say they benefited from the law were those who were receiving federal subsidies to buy insurance, and those who had been uninsured earlier. People who had canceled insurance coverage in the last 12 months and those who bought unsubsidized insurance outside the exchanges were likely to say they had been negatively affected.
  • Nearly one in five Americans did not know about their monthly premiums and about four out of ten people did not have details about their annual deductibles.

The people who participated in this poll were asked to describe their health status as well. The findings suggest that people who bought coverage under the new plans were sicker than those who were previously getting coverage in the individual market. It is not however clear what this finding signifies for premiums in 2015 – when setting rates, insurers expect people to be “sicker than average”. Insurers cannot, under the healthcare law, deny coverage to people with medical conditions. This means that people who were earlier unable to secure coverage due to existing medical conditions can now obtain coverage.

According to the federal administration, people who purchased insurance from federal exchanges are paying less than $100 as premium per month. The full premium for those selecting health plans with tax credits from federal exchanges was $346 per month, but federal subsidies reduced the amount the consumer has to pay to $82.