For Many Obamacare Enrollees, 2018 Will Be Cheapest Year Ever

By Hannah RechtHannah Recht

Open enrollment in the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces, where about 12 million people buy health insurance, begins on Wednesday. According to a report by the Department of Health and Human Services’ policy division, 80 percent of HealthCare.gov enrollees will be able to purchase a plan for $75 or less per month.

After several failed attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act this summer, the Trump administration turned to regulatory rollback and spending cuts to chip away at the law. This month, Trump halted payments that reimburse insurance companies for reducing out-of-pocket costs for low-income enrollees. Since insurers are still required to lower those costs, monthly premiums for certain silver tier, or mid-level, plans have skyrocketed.

But many low-income and middle-class customers will be spared the higher costs. Shoppers with incomes less than four times the poverty line—about $48,000 for an individual or $98,000 for a family of four—are eligible for subsidies that reduce the cost of monthly premiums.

Since those subsidies rise with the cost of silver plans, it will be easier than ever for people who receive premium subsidies to find cheap plans. That's good news for customers. It's bad news for taxpayers who will pay the difference.

Share of Enrollees Who Can Purchase a Plan For $75 or Less Per Month After Subsidies

2015

2016

2017

2018

40

50

60

70

80

90%

HealthCare.gov

Average

AL

OK

WY

FL

UT

TN

SC

NE

NC

ME

MS

TX

KS

VA

PA

MO

MI

MT

IA

GA

WI

NV

SD

LA

IL

NM

HI

KY

AK

AR

DE

AZ

OH

NJ

OR

WV

ND

NH

IN

40

50

60

70

80

90%

2015

2016

2017

2018

40

50

60

70

80

90%

HealthCare.gov

Average

Alabama

Oklahoma

Wyoming

Florida

Utah

Tennessee

South Carolina

Nebraska

North Carolina

Maine

Mississippi

Texas

Kansas

Virginia

Pennsylvania

Missouri

Michigan

Montana

Iowa

Georgia

Wisconsin

Nevada

South Dakota

Louisiana

Illinois

New Mexico

Hawaii

Kentucky

Alaska

Arkansas

Delaware

Arizona

Ohio

New Jersey

Oregon

West Virginia

North Dakota

New Hampshire

Indiana

40

50

60

70

80

90%

2015

2016, 2017

2018

40

50

60

70

80

90%

HealthCare.gov

Average

Alabama

Oklahoma

Wyoming

Florida

Utah

Tennessee

South Carolina

Nebraska

North Carolina

Maine

Mississippi

Texas

Kansas

Virginia

Pennsylvania

Missouri

Michigan

Montana

Iowa

Georgia

Wisconsin

Nevada

South Dakota

Louisiana

Illinois

New Mexico

Hawaii

Kentucky

Alaska

Arkansas

Delaware

Arizona

Ohio

New Jersey

Oregon

West Virginia

North Dakota

New Hampshire

Indiana

40

50

60

70

80

90%