Millions of Americans should be able to get some federal assistance when it comes to paying for their health insurance, as a result of the subsidies allowed by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. However, a large number have found that even that financial help often doesn't do enough to make their health care both reasonable in terms of the kind of coverage they need as well as the monthly payments they have to make to maintain it. As such, experts fear that many could wash out of the health care system shortly after joining it.
It's believed that about 10.5 million Americans who have yet to do so will once again be eligible to sign up for health insurance coverage through the ACA's mandated health insurance exchanges, when enrollment opens in just a few weeks, according to a report from the New York Times. However, some experts now wonder whether there should also be a marketing push to retain those who have to renew their plans as well.
How widespread is this problem?
Through the end of June, the latest month for which federal data on the subject was available, a little more than 1 in 6 people who had signed up for health insurance through Healthcare.gov or the state exchanges dropped coverage, the report said. In all, the number of enrolled Americans slipped to just 9.9 million from the roughly 11.7 million seen at the end of February.
There are, of course, many reasons beyond not being able to afford coverage why people would stop being on the exchanges, though that's certainly a major issue as well, the report said. In addition, though, some could see their personal financial conditions change to the point that they become eligible for Medicaid and no longer need to pay for their coverage. Others might get jobs that provide them with health insurance, while others might have simply seen their subsidies slashed or withdrawn because of income issues that were not reported for the previous year.
Another issue still looms
However, it should further be noted that there's anecdotal evidence to suggest another issue at play here: People losing coverage because they don't understand it in the first place, the report said. This confusion can arise from what's required upon sign-up, and some people might not even know that they actually need to pay their bills each month. Plenty of unassociated data suggests that people don't understand as much about health insurance as they probably should, so experts don't think it's too significant a stretch to say that the loss of some people's coverage might come from that lack of knowledge.
For this reason, it might be wise for health insurance companies to try to do a little more to work with these new sign-ups to help them fully understand what's being asked of them, even as they get subsidies and access to other programs that can make health care more affordable for them in the long term.