In 47 of 50 cities in 2018, the cost of Obamacare's lowest-priced plan would be deemed "unaffordable" by the Affordable Care Act's own definition, according to a study from eHealth, Inc.
Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurance becomes unaffordable when the lowest-cost plan costs more than 8.16 percent of a household's gross income. Usually people who fall in this category can get an exemption from paying Obamacare's individual mandate.
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"Government subsidies are available to people earning up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, but middle-income households earning 401 percent or more of the federal poverty level are not eligible for subsidy assistance," eHealth explains.
The study evaluated families with two adults and one child in 50 cities who were paying the lowest-price plan in 2017. The study then applied a 10 percent increase to premiums to project the rates seen in 2018 and found that in 47 of those cities, coverage would be unaffordable. The increase that the study projected was moderate, since many have estimated that premiums could increase by as much as 20 percent next year.
In addition, these families would need to incur an extra $28,939 before the plan became affordable. On average, a family of three would have to earn a six-figure salary—or $110,823.32—for coverage to be affordable.
Some cities have higher costs than others. For example, in Charlotte, N.C., a family of three would have to earn an extra $102,244.68 from what they are earning now or a total of $184,128.68 a year to afford an Obamacare plan.
There were only three cities—Detroit, Albuquerque, and Pittsburgh—where there was no affordability gap with the rate increases expected in 2018.
"Coverage under the Affordable Care Act is becoming seriously unaffordable for many families, even by Obamacare's own rules," said eHealth CEO Scott Flanders. "I find it hard to believe that the framers of the law ever intended the cost of family health insurance to rival that of a second mortgage. Without the introduction of lower-cost options into the market or expanded government subsidies, many middle-income Americans are in danger of being priced out of the health insurance market entirely."