Is Affordable Care Act coverage affordable?

piggybankIs coverage under the Affordable Care Act affordable for low-income households? The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation this week released an interesting study that sought to address the question from the perspective of consumers interviewed in six cities around the country, including several from Maryland.

The study’s conclusion is that Medicaid expansion was vital to providing health care to low-income families. As for ACA marketplace enrollees whose incomes are too high for Medicaid enrollment, out-of-pocket costs can be a stretch even with federal tax credit assistance. The enrollment process can still seem complex and needs to become simpler. But those interviewed said their ability to afford and access health care, often for the first time in a long time, and the reduction of fear about the possibility of an unexpected catastrophic medical bill were significant quality-of-life improvements.

That echoed what we heard from residents during numerous Maryland Health Connection enrollment events the past three winters: Enrollees seemed relieved to be among the “haves” rather than the “have nots” of health care and health coverage. They also expressed relief about not having to fear the consequences of a prior health condition.

I think the good thing with this is I know the visit’s going to be covered. I don’t have to worry about how much am I going to have to shell out at the end of the visit and the guess work around how much it will be. (Shaeeda, Baltimore Medicaid)

The few visits I’ve gone in for would have buried me in debt if I didn’t have insurance. I’ll pay the $65 dollars… if it saves me from getting a $10,000 bill for what I thought was a routine test. (Shannon, Baltimore Marketplace)

For me I’m glad I have the healthcare because there’s been a couple of situations this year if I didn’t I would have been out of work for a lot longer making less money. In the long run I was able to work because of it. (Zak, Baltimore Marketplace)

(Without coverage) I would probably suffer an anxiety attack from shock! I would limit my doctor’s visits to extreme emergencies and take my medication every other day instead of daily. (Kym, Baltimore Medicaid)

You can access the Kaiser study here.