NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Can the Poor Afford ObamaCare?

January 20, 2014

Antipoverty agencies across the United States are concerned that the poor will not be able to afford ObamaCare's health insurance, says Stateline.

While the Affordable Care Act was presented to the public as being just that -- affordable -- many are finding that they cannot afford to pay the cost of health insurance, even with federal subsidies providing assistance for individuals making up to 400 percent of the poverty line.

The amount of available subsidies is also confusing and varies depending upon the type of plan at issue:

  • For Americans earning between 133 and 250 percent of the poverty level, some out-of-pocket costs can also be covered if they purchase a Silver plan rather than a Bronze plan.
  • With a Silver plan, those earning over 250 percent of the poverty level will contribute around 30 percent toward their medical costs, while the insurance company must cover the rest.
  • But for Silver plan holders below 250 percent of the poverty level, federal aid is available for out-of-pocket expenses. In fact, an individual at 133 percent of the poverty level could pay as little as 6 percent of the costs of his medical bills, forcing the insurance company and the federal government to cover the rest.

Sireesha Manne, an attorney for the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty, says that even with subsidies, insurance is going to remain unaffordable to swaths of Americans under the Affordable Care Act.

Source: Michael Ollove, "Affording the Affordable Care Act," Stateline, January 14, 2014.


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