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California consumers name their health coverage price

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Many of the remaining long-term uninsured people in California say they are broke, and some may have trouble buying health coverage because they cannot document that they are in the United States legally.

But some may need help from a persistent health insurance agent or broker.

Analysts at the Menlo Park, California-based Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation have raised that possibility in a summary of results from the fourth wave of their open enrollment period survey. The latest wave of interviews was conducted from February through June.

The foundation organized the first wave in 2013, before the start of the first Affordable Care Act individual major medical coverage open enrollment period. They polled 2,001 nonelderly, uninsured adult residents of California. Survey teams have returned and re-interviewed as many of the same people as they could find every year since then.

During the latest survey wave, about 72 percent of all of the participants, and 78 percent of the participants who were eligible for the ACA public exchange program or the ACA Medicaid expansion program, said they had coverage, Kaiser analysts report.

Related: High-income Americans get covered

About 26 percent of the participants who were still uninsured said they had recently tried to get insured, but that insurance appeared to be too expensive.

Another 61 percent said they had not tried to get coverage.

It appears that many of those people had not tried to determine whether they were eligible for either Medicaid or ACA exchange plan premium subsidies, because just 40 percent of all the uninsured said they looked into Medicaid eligibility in the past two years, and just 31 percent had looked into getting premium tax credit subsidies.

When the survey team asked the people who were still uninsured how much they would be willing to pay each month for self-only coverage, 26 percent said $49 or less, but 41 percent said they could pay $50 to $199 per month.

Another 8 percent said they would be willing to pay $250 or more per month 

The Kaiser team found that half of the long-term uninsured people they surveyed assumed they would have to pay at least $300 a month to get covered. Only 20 percent thought they could get coverage for less than $100 a month out of their own pockets, and only 40 percent thought they could pay less than $200 a month.

At Covered California, in 2015, for enrollees who qualify for premium subsidies, the average net premium is just $113.

Young, healthy consumers who cannot qualify for exchange plan premium subsidies may be able to get short-term health insurance with a monthly premium within the range of what the long-term uninsured people in the Kaiser sample think of a good price.

In the foundation’s ZIP code, for example, a 30-year can get short-term health insurance with a $2 million maximum benefit and a $5,000 annual deductible for less than $200 per month, according to Mountain View, California-based eHealth’s website.


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