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How affordable is the Affordable Care Act?

Dan Gorenstein Sep 18, 2014
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A survey out on Thursday suggests many Americans who signed up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) find their coverage affordable.

That’s particularly true for people with low incomes who are paying less than $125 a month in premiums, similar to people that get coverage at work. To be sure, there were good deals for consumers in the first year of the ACA.

But the Commonwealth Fund’s Sara Collins, who co-authored this report, says for individuals earning about $30,000, or say $60,000 for a family of four, those deals could be hard to find.

“People are paying more than they would have if they had gotten a plan from an employer,” she says.

Collins’ report raises an important question: Are the ACA subsidies generous enough to make insurance affordable? The federal government is on track to spend at least $11 billion in financial assistance this year.

Sharon Long with the Urban Institute says a chunk of people who buy their own coverage—in and off of the exchanges—are still struggling.

“Among those who are buying coverage on their own, almost half report they are satisfied with their coverage. But that means about half are not satisfied,” she says. For the unsatisfied, the big problem is price, says Long.

And, she adds, that’s the case for more than half of the 41 million Americans who remain uninsured.

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