Unaffordable? Don’t take their word for it.

How often have you heard something like this:

Obama care is unaffordable […] The deductibles would be $7,000 and the premiums hundreds of dollars a month […]

Last April, The Deloitte Center for Health Solutions surveyed 500 young adults age 19-34 who were uninsured in September 2013, before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Open enrollment, and remained uninsured (report). One finding was that two-thirds said they just couldn’t afford health insurance coverage from a Marketplace. More than half never even visited a state or federal Marketplace site.

The question is, how did they know it was unaffordable if they never got a price from a Marketplace? The survey doesn’t say, but I suspect they concluded it was too expensive from second or third hand information. Someone they know checked and found it too expensive, they heard a media report, read on a blog, or otherwise accepted unverified information that ACA would not be affordable for them.

Even for those who do go to a Marketplace, the jargon of health insurance and the complexity of the ACA may result in an inaccurate conclusion about whether the coverage is affordable. Again from the Deloitte survey:

[…] respondents appear to lack a basic understanding of some important features of the ACA […] many missed one of the most salient affordability messages:  Subsidies are available from the federal government […]

So if you hear someone say the insurance from the Marketplace is unaffordable, ask if they have gone to Healthcare.gov in the last few weeks.  Do they believe coverage is unaffordable because someone said so? We need to be willing to sit down beside them as they go shopping on Healthcare.gov, explain the insurance jargon, and help them focus into a program and plan the fits best for them. Chances are it won’t be as expensive as they thought.

Remember, open enrollment through Michigan’s Health Insurance Marketplace (www.healthcare.gov) ends February 15!

NOTE: The health insurance Marketplace is the same as the health insurance Exchange

Ned Simpson is a Past Chairman and Life Fellow of HIMSS with a Master’s of Science from the University of Michigan. His career has included executive and consulting roles in large medical centers, physician practices, health plans, Fortune 500 and health care start-up organizations. Notably he has lead development teams for the Massachusetts Health Connector and the New York State of Health marketplace.