Premium cost affordability survey reveals importance of insurance subsidies

Most consumers surveyed say they can only afford "$100 or less" for the highest monthly premium in 2016, according to a study released by healthpocket.com, an online company that compares and ranks available health plans. 

When digging deeper, however, the study revealed much more than the fact that most people feel as though they cannot afford high premiums; it showed that those who receive subsidized healthcare plans have much easier access to insurance than those who don't.

Fifty-seven percent of the 1,137 people surveyed in the study said that they could afford $100 or less per month for a healthcare premium. Seventeen percent said they could afford $200 or less and only 9 percent said $300 or less was affordable.

For those who receive subsidies, premiums match up with expectations of what they should cost, and are therefore affordable. But those consumers who don't receive subsidies pay more than 2.5 times what most people claim as the maximum they can afford. The average subsidized premium, according to the study, was $101, while the average non-subsidized premium was $364. This means that the subsidized population has a highly affordable healthcare plan, while the unsubsidized population now pays more than it did before the Affordable Care Act was put in place, according to the study.

Much of the struggle with health reform stresses the importance of maintaining transparency and ensuring that customers are well-educated about their healthcare funding options. Indeed, a report from August shows that 2.2 million Americans aren't accessing the cost-sharing reductions for which they qualify.

Acknowledging this, a Health and Human Services Department official tells CNBC that the agency has focused for three years on "educating Americans about financial help" that they can get.

To learn more:
- read the report
- check out the CNBC article

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