Obamacare was supposed to insure the previously uninsured and make health care more affordable for the rest of us. Unfortunately, some people – even those eligible for subsidies – still can’t find the money in their budgets for health care premiums and deductibles, according to a national survey in June of uninsured adults.
According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, cost was the main barrier to being insured: Almost 80 percent who had looked for it said they simply could not afford it. Most respondents were working, but their wages have lagged behind rising housing and health costs: Almost 60 percent said they had $100 or less left over each month after paying bills; while about 55 percent said they had less than $100 in savings.
Doing Without in the Big Apple
In New York City where 56 percent of renters find rent and utilities consuming more than one-third of their incomes, it is the people who make too much to be eligible for Medicaid — but not enough to pay 9 percent percent of their annual income in premiums and more toward deductibles — who seem most likely to pay the 2 percent penalty (or $325 per adult — whichever amount is greater) on their 2015 income taxes.
amNewYork quotes Collin Slattery, 26, founder of digital marketing agency Taikun Inc., who constructed a risk analysis based on nystateofhealth.ny.gov offerings, and decided that while he would like insurance, he discovered that even with a subsidy, “it’s $150 a month for a bronze plan with a $3,000 deductible” — money he prefers to put toward actual care from a doc-in-the-box if he get injured.
Although he agrees with Obamacare providing coverage to millions of previously uninsured and uninsurable Americans, he said “there is a distinct subset of people of which I am a member who do not benefit,” and who find it unfeasible to get yet another roommate or move to an even cheaper place.
Melissa Mesku, 33, CEO of Pure Cure Dental Technology, has been uninsured most of her life. amNewYork quotes her, saying insurance as it exists in the United States, health care simply isn’t worth it and she finds many U.S. health care practices based on needless liability medicine. As for the risk she’s undertaken, “I’ve had friends with insurance,” who were hospitalized for months after catastrophes “and they still wound up bankrupt,” she said.
Mesku contends that instead of paying providers exorbitant prices when she needs medical care (as many uninsured do), she negotiates a “huge discount,” because she offers cash.
Kenneth Artz ([email protected]) is managing editor of Health Care News.
PerryUndem and GMMB, “Understanding the Uninsured Now,” Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, June 2015: https://www.heartland.org/policy-documents/understanding-uninsured-now