They're not paying now, but could pay lots more later.
Many lower-income Obamacare customers may have bought some "unaffordably cheap" health insurance plans—and are leaving significant amounts of money on the table as a result.
A new analysis found that 2.2 million people who enrolled in Obamacare in 2015 are eligible for federal aid to assist with their out-of-pocket health costs, but aren't getting that assistance because they chose an insurance plan that does not qualify for that help. That tally represents more than 1 out of 4 of all the Obamacare customers who were eligible for such aid.
The findings by Avalere Health raise concerns that a number of those lower-income people could get stuck with health bills that they could have avoided if only they had selected a plan that might have had higher monthly premiums—but which gave them access to the federal subsidies.
"Consumers are picking plans on [Obamacare] exchanges based on premiums, rather than out-of-pocket costs," said Avalere CEO Dan Mendelson. "As a result, some patients may be paying more than they need for care."
"This is about a lot of low-income people leaving significant amounts of money on the table," Mendelson said. "We know, statistically, that most of those people are going to be worse off."
And more could be worse off in coming years. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that during future enrollments, 3 million eligible Obamacare customers will forgo available assistance to reduce their out-of-pocket costs.