For third year in a row, $100 a month persists as most common price ceiling
For the third year since 2015, HealthPocket conducted a nationwide poll regarding health insurance affordability. HealthPocket asked 1,225 adults across the country, "What is the highest monthly premium you could afford to pay for health insurance in 2018?" Respondents had the option of selecting one of the following answers:
The most popular answer, chosen by half of all Americans surveyed, was “$100 a month or less.” $100 or less was also the most common answer when similar surveys were run in 20161 and 2015.2 For all three surveys, 50 percent or more of respondents indicated that $100 or less was the most they could spend on monthly health insurance premiums. The $100 affordability ceiling for most Americans has endured while the average market premiums of ACA plans experienced considerable increases in 2016,3 2017,4 and possibly 2018.5
In the case of the most recent survey, $100 or less was more than twice as common as the second most popular answer, “$200 a month.” The $200 price ceiling accounted for only 19 percent of respondents. Interestingly, the third most popular response was the most expensive option, “Over $500 a month.” Nearly 11 percent of respondents indicated that they could afford this level of premium expense. The remaining answers ($300, $400, $500) each were chosen by less than 10 percent of respondents.
These survey results come at a time when there is still uncertainty and anxiety regarding 2018 rates for Affordable Care Act (ACA) health plans. In 2017, the average market premiums of ACA health plans rose by 15 to 22 percent, depending on the metal tier.6 Until all rates are approved and released by regulators, ACA health insurance buyers won’t know their rates will be in 2018. However, unsubsidized consumers continue to carry the greatest concerns. Unlike consumers who have their monthly premiums limited to a fix percentage of their income, unsubsidized consumers face the full list price of health insurance. For a 40 year-old nonsmoker, the average unsubsidized premium nationwide in 2017 for each of the four categories of ACA plans are as follows:
|ACA Plan Category||Avg Premium|
For consumers buying insurance on a government exchange, 83 percent of enrollees had incomes that qualified for premium subsidies.7 The average 2017 premium on Healthcare.Gov after subsidies were applied was $106.8 Without subsidies, the average premium on Healthcare.Gov was $489.9 This amount is close to an American’s average monthly payment on a new car loan ($503 according to credit bureau Experian10). These very different financial obligations between the unsubsidized and the subsidized are among the forces that contribute to substantially different perspectives on the Affordable Care Act across the nation.
Results are based on 1,225 responses to a nationwide survey conducted from September 22, 2017 to September 24, 2017. The survey asked respondents, "What is the highest monthly premium you could afford to pay for health insurance in 2018?" Respondents had the option of selecting one of the following answers:
The answer options were displayed in fixed order across respondents.
The survey was displayed within a network of over 100 different news web sites and other content sites. Demographic inferencing and methodology to acquire survey respondents who approximate national statistics on age, gender, income, and region was performed by Google-administered technology. Race, education, and health insurance status were not examined. Margin of error across survey responses is estimated at +2.6%/-2.6%.
This analysis was written by Kev Coleman, Head of Research & Data at HealthPocket with data collection performed by Michael Bass. Correspondence regarding this study can be directed to Mr. Coleman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 Kev Coleman. “For More than Half of U.S., $100 or Less Remains the Maximum Most Americans Can Pay for Health Insurance Premiums.” HealthPocket. (November 7, 2016). https://www.healthpocket.com/healthcare-research/surveys/2017-survey-health-insurance-premium-affordability. Last accessed September 21, 2017.
2 Kev Coleman. “Survey: Most Consumers Only Can Afford $100 or Less for Health Insurance Premiums.” HealthPocket. (October 20, 2015). https://www.healthpocket.com/healthcare-research/surveys/health-insurance-premium-affordability. Last accessed September 21, 2017.
3 Kev Coleman and Jesse Geneson. “2016 Affordable Care Act Market Brings Higher Average Premiums for Unsubsidized.” HealthPocket. (November 2, 2015). https://www.healthpocket.com/healthcare-research/infostat/2016-obamacare-premiums-deductibles. Last accessed September 21, 2017.
4 Kev Coleman. “Aging Consumers without Subsidies Hit Hardest by 2017 Obamacare Premium & Deductible Spikes.” HealthPocket. (October 26, 2016). https://www.healthpocket.com/healthcare-research/infostat/2017-obamacare-premiums-deductibles. Last accessed September 21, 2017.
5 Anna Wilde Mathews. “States Back Big Insurance Increases Amid Health Law’s Uncertainty.” Wall Street Journal. (September 20, 2017). https://www.wsj.com/articles/states-back-big-insurance-increases-amid-health-laws-uncertainty-1505927147. Last accessed September 21, 2017.
6 Kev Coleman. “Aging Consumers without Subsidies Hit Hardest by 2017 Obamacare Premium & Deductible Spikes.” HealthPocket. (October 26, 2016). https://www.healthpocket.com/healthcare-research/infostat/2017-obamacare-premiums-deductibles. Last accessed September 21, 2017.
7 Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services. “HEALTH INSURANCE MARKETPLACES 2017 OPEN ENROLLMENT PERIOD FINAL ENROLLMENT REPORT: NOVEMBER 1, 2016 – JANUARY 31, 2017.” (March 15, 2017). https://www.cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Fact-sheets/2017-Fact-Sheet-Items/2017-03-15.html. Last accessed September 21, 2017.
9 Ibid. See also Allison Bell. “ACA exchanges see new signups drop, retention rise.” BenefitsPro. (March 16, 2017). http://www.benefitspro.com/2017/03/16/aca-exchanges-see-new-signups-drop-retention-rise?page_all=1. Last accessed September 21, 2017.
10 “86.3% of all new vehicle purchases were financed for a term of 68 months, with an average loan amount of $30,032 and an average monthly payment of $503.” Christy Bieber. “How Your Car Might Crush Your Retirement Dreams.” The Motley Fool. (August 24, 2017). https://www.fool.com/retirement/2017/08/24/how-your-car-might-crush-your-retirement-dreams.aspx. Last accessed September 21, 2017.
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