The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) released data for Affordable Care Act (ACA) enrollments by state exchange for 2014. According to the KFF report, 125,402 enrolled in a Colorado marketplace plan. The foundation also reported that a total of 88,208 Coloradans were eligible for a premium tax credit.
Californians eligible to enroll in the state exchange were close to 1,887,000 residents with more than 1,458,000 qualifying for a subsidy. A majority of those who have signed up so far have received some sort of subsidy to lower their premiums. So what about the rest, who had to pay “full retail”?
Health Insurance Has Gotten WAY More Expensive
Unfortunately, health insurance premiums took a huge leap from 2013 to 2014. The average premium today is 50 – 80 percent higher than it was in 2013! Because the only plans available now are those that are approved under the Affordable Care Act, inexpensive options have pretty much disappeared.
The people taking the hit are mostly small business owners, independent contractors, and others who are not covered by corporate group health insurance. Today’s health insurance is way too expensive for the average person who is not receiving a subsidy, and there need to be less expensive options.
The best solution is to eliminate many of the coverage mandates, and make higher deductible, less comprehensive plans available. Don’t force people to purchase maternity coverage if they don’t need it, and eliminate many of the other mandated benefits so people can find less expensive options.
Copper Plans Cheaper than Bronze
I am not the only one who thinks that there should be additional health plan options available for those of us who do not qualify for a subsidy, but find the cost of ACA metal tier plans to be cost-prohibitive. Recently, leading health insurance spokesperson (president and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP)) Karen Ignagni expressed similar sentiments in supporting the need for a less expensive ACA metal tier option.
Currently, plans are available as Platinum, Gold, Silver, or Bronze. The idea of a so-called Copper plan is to allow people to purchase Catastrophic plans (currently available only to those under age 30) that don’t cover all the required benefits of the current plans.
Copper plans probably won’t lower the cost enough, but its a start. I hope lawmakers sit up and take notice of the good sense this would make for those of us who don’t qualify for subsidies. These plans should also be qualified to work with health savings accounts (HSAs).
Make True Catastrophic Plans Available
I’ll take this proposition one step further and suggest that there should be even less expensive options than the Copper idea. People should be able to opt for a plan with truly catastrophic level deductibles, such as $25,000 or more. Such plans should particularly be available to those who have accumulated substantial funds in their HSAs.
If these new ideas about improving health care reform seem like “outside the box” thinking, just think about how you approach your car insurance. Automobile insurance does not pay for tire rotations or windshield wipers. If it was mandated, car insurance would be exhaustively more expensive.
Instead, the purpose of insurance is (and should remain) a safeguard against financial loss for the events you cannot afford. Buying anything more than that is an inefficient use of your resources.
What do you think of the Copper idea?
Wiley Long is President of HSA for America, and a passionate advocate for consumer-based solutions that will improve price transparency and lower health insurance and medical costs for people purchasing individual and family health insurance plans.