by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Obamacare customers who do not receive government help to pay for health insurance are expected to look for ways to reduce their costs during this open enrollment season by going uninsured, buying less extensive coverage or altering their incomes.
Industry and nonprofit insiders say people who are looking for ways to reduce their spending on monthly premiums tend to seek alternatives to Obamacare plans, such as through a religious health-sharing ministry, short-term health insurance, or indemnity plan. Others may choose to go uninsured or reduce their incomes so they can receive federal assistance.
“People are looking for sure,” Louise Norris, who co-owns a health insurance agency with her husband and writes for consumers at Healthinsurance.org, said of unsubsidized customers shopping for Obamacare alternatives. “It kinds of depends on what your risk tolerance is and whether you’re exempt from the penalty.”
That is occurring as premiums for Obamacare’s mid-level plans, known as silver plans, rise by an average of 34 percent in 2018, according to the consulting firm Avalere Health. Though about 80 percent of customers who sign up for health insurance through Obamacare exchanges, such as the federal healthcare.gov, receive government assistance that may make their coverage cheaper in 2018 than in past years, a slew of other customers are facing significant increases in premiums. Most of them tend to buy coverage outside the exchange but that must still abide by Obamacare’s rules.