Individual Insurance Benefits to be Available Under Health Reform Would Have Cut Out-Of-Pocket Spending In 2001-08
Under the Affordable Care Act, individual health insurance will probably become more generous and more like employment-related insurance. Currently, individual insurance typically has less generous benefits than employment-related insurance. This study compared out-of-pocket spending on health care between individual and employment-related insurance, controlling for numerous characteristics such as health status. Then it simulated the impact of full implementation of provisions of the Affordable Care Act on adults who currently have individual insurance, including important subgroups—adults with chronic conditions, the near-elderly (ages 55–64), and low-income populations. If adults who had individual insurance during 2001–08 had instead had benefits similar to those under the Affordable Care Act, their average annual out-of-pocket spending on medical care and drugs might have been $280 less. The near-elderly and people with low incomes might have saved $589 and $535, respectively. An important improvement would have been the reduced probability of incurring very high out-of-pocket spending. The likelihood of having out-of-pocket expenditures on care exceeding $6,000 would have been reduced for all adults with individual insurance, and the likelihood of having expenditures exceeding $4,000 would have been reduced for many.