Almost 2 Million People Dropped Obamacare In March

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter
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Nearly 2 million individuals enrolled in Obamacare plans through state exchanges dropped their coverage through mid-March, according to a Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services report released Monday evening.

Some 12.2 million people enrolled in Obamacare plans during the 2017 open enrollment period, but only 10.3 million individuals paid their premiums to maintain health coverage through March 15, 2017. Essentially, 1.9 million individuals either had not paid or did not pay the necessary amount to keep coverage on the exchanges, according to the CMS report.

“Consumers are sending a clear message that cost and affordability are major factors in their decision to cancel or terminate coverage,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a statement.

Consumers are increasingly concerned about the costs of both obtaining and using health insurance. Premiums — the costs of having insurance — continue to increase by double-digit percentages every year.

Obamacare introduced new regulations into the health care marketplace that contributed to premiums doubling after the legislation took full effect in 2014, according to a report the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). (RELATED: Premiums Doubled Once Obamacare Took Full Effect)

HHS compared premiums in the exchange marketplaces in 2013, one year before Obamacare regulations took full effect, to premiums in the exchange marketplace in 2017. The report found that average monthly premiums increased from $224 in 2013 to $476 in 2014. That constitutes a 105 percent increase in only 4 years.

“Not surprisingly, as costs continue to go up, fewer Americans can afford to pay more and get less for healthcare,” HHS Secretary Tom Price said in a statement Monday evening. “Many individuals and families across the country are tired of having their healthcare options dictated to them by Washington – particularly when those limited options are unaffordable.”

Consumers are also stressed by Obamacare’s high deductibles. A deductible, by definition, is the amount of money an individual has to pay out before the insurance company will begin to pay.

Deductible costs now run in the thousands of dollars on average. Average deductibles for bronze, silver, and gold plans obtained on the Obamacare exchanges increased by 8.4 percent, or $265, in 2016. The second most popular plan on the Obamacare exchanges – the Bronze option – have average deductibles of $5,629.

The average American household brings in just over $55,000 a year, and so paying up to $5,600 before insurance kicks in is not a viable option for most families. Insurance companies love the new higher deductibles, as it further insulates them from the cost of providing care to each individual policy holder.

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