Jul 21, 2017

The $13,000 deductible

The new Congressional Budget Office report on the revised Senate health care bill was an important lesson in the tradeoffs in health insurance. Yes, it suggested that premiums could go down for some groups, which has been one of Republicans' main goals. But because the "actuarial value" of the coverage could go down — meaning customers would have to pay more of the medical costs themselves — the deductible for a low-income person could shoot up to $13,000.

Data: Kaiser Family Foundation; Chart: Chris Canipe / Axios

For context: That's about half the income of someone at 175 percent of the federal poverty level. And for someone at 75 percent of the federal poverty level — the kind of person who's supposed to gain private coverage in states that didn't expand Medicaid — it's more than their entire annual income.

The bottom line: Premiums aren't everything. You can make the premiums lower, but the deductibles will be higher — so all you did was make the customer trade one kind of health care spending for another.

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