Despite the public outcry when as many as 4.7 million people were estimated to have received cancellation notices about their private, non-employment-based health insurance plans last fall when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was launched, this market was already characterized by a great deal of turnover each year even before the ACA, according to a new study by Benjamin Sommers of Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH).
Analyzing individual health insurance coverage patterns from 2008-2011, Sommers, assistant professor of health policy and economics, found that “instability was the norm,” as MSNBC.com reported April 24, 2014. More than half of all individuals with coverage in this market no longer were enrolled in that coverage within 12 months, and 80% of those who lost coverage in individual plans found other insurance within a year. This suggests that many of those receiving cancellation notices would likely have changed plans anyway in 2014, regardless of the new law, according to Sommers. Many who obtained new coverage through the healthcare exchanges set up under the ACA may have gotten a better deal with tax credits than they would have before the law.
Sommers’ study, published April 23, 2014 in Health Affairs, also identified some features of people who likely would have remained in this market over longer periods of time. People who are self-employed, over 35, and white were most likely to remain enrolled in individual insurance plans over time, and therefore were more likely to have been adversely impacted by the ACA-related cancellations.
“For some people who were covered by non-grandfathered plans, cancellations related to the ACA represent an unwanted change in coverage options that may be quite disruptive,” Sommers wrote in the paper.
Read the Health Affairs paper: Insurance Cancellations In Context: Stability Of Coverage In The Nongroup Market Prior To Health Reform
Read the MSNBC.com article: Study questions impact of Obamacare on insurance cancellations
Read the Washington Post article: White, older and self-employed people want to keep their health plans
Read the Yahoo Finance article: Obamacare hurt these people the most