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October 4 2017

Half of Americans Can’t Afford More than $100 in Healthcare Premiums

by Patrice Lee Onwuka

What’s the highest monthly premium, you could afford to pay for health insurance? If your budget is tight and you can’t afford more than $100, you join 50 percent of Americans.

This is the third year in a row that half of Americans said $100 or less is what they could afford to pay – despite the fact that average monthly premiums for those with Obamacare coverage has continued to climb.

According to new results from an annual health survey, while half of respondents say they could afford $100 or less, 19 percent said they could afford $200 or less per month. Interestingly, 11 percent said more than $500 per month was within their budgets. The remaining 20 percent were divided: 9 percent could afford $300 per month, 6 percent could afford $400 per month, and 5 percent could afford $500 per month.

These results come at a critical time for the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Open enrollment begins in one month, but we expect to find out from insurers what 2018 rates will look like. If the past three years are any indication, they won’t be pretty.

The average monthly premium in 2017 for a 40 year-old nonsmoker was $350 for the bronze plan (the lowest plan) and rose to $622 per month for the platinum plan (the highest plan).

Mind you, these are the rates without a tax subsidy (i.e., taxpayer-funded credit to reduce the size of the premium). According to government data, some 83 percent of Obamacare customers (nearly 10.1 million people) qualified for a subsidy to make their plans affordable. In 2017 the average subsidy was $383 per month reducing what a person paid to about $106 each month.

Without the subsidies, these monthly out-of-pocket costs would be about what American’s pay for their monthly car note. Paying two car notes is far more than most American families could afford, which underscores a big problem with the Affordable Care Act, it is not affordable.

Efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare have come up short, but we can’t accept the status quo. It’s both unsustainable and unfair to taxpayers who are footing the bill.

Perhaps if Congress wasn’t exempt from Obamacare, they would feel the full of weight and the challenges of securing affordable and quality care. Members of Congress need to have a personal interest in repealing and replacing Obamacare with something that is really affordable.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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