Millions of Uninsured People Could Get $0 Premium Obamacare Health Insurance—With a Catch

December 12, 2018, 2:45 PM UTC

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), informally known as “Obamacare,” has subsidies that can make an insurance plan’s premiums very cheap. The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that 4.2 million currently uninsured people are eligible for $0 premiums after subsidies. That’s out of the 15.9 million total who remain uninsured in the country.

They’d have to act fast, as the sign-up deadline is on Saturday December 15 this year. According to Kaiser, the states with the most number of uninsured people who might qualify for $0-premium plans are Texas (more than 1 million), Florida (623,434), and North Carolina (296,892).

But people would also have to think through some of the potential financial consequences. A $0 premium may sound good if your income qualifies, but that is for one of the bronze plans. They focus on providing services with a high annual deductible of $6,200, according to Axios.

Such an arrangement may be fine if someone is healthy and unlikely to use much in the way of medical services, explains NPR. Bronze plans are estimated to cover 60% of the average person’s healthcare expenses, versus the 70% that a silver plan does.

Also, a silver plan potentially offers so-called cost-sharing reductions that decrease the amount that someone has to pay for deductibles, copayments, or coinsurance, according to the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. With cost-sharing, the plan’s benefits kick in sooner, so, for example, a $750 deductible might only be $300 to $500, depending on income A copay for a doctor’s visit might be $15 or $20 instead of $30.