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Many plans won't require a monthly premium payment. AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File

Many people signing up for coverage through the Affordable Care Act will be able to find plans with a monthly premium of $0, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Why it matters: These zero-premium policies would be especially attractive to the younger, healthier consumers insurance companies are eager to enroll. And in the absence of federal outreach targeted to those consumers, insurers will be aggressively promoting "free" coverage.

How it works: This is all a byproduct of President Trump's decision to cut off the ACA's subsidies for out-of-pocket spending, which are separate from its premium subsidies.

  • Trump's decision prompted insurance companies to raise their premiums — and as premiums rise, so does the value of the ACA's premium subsidies.
  • That means consumers will be able to apply bigger subsidies to less comprehensive plans, and in many cases their subsidies will cover their entire premiums.

The details: That scenario has always been possible for some of the youngest and poorest ACA enrollees, but now wealthier and older consumers will have that option, too.

  • Per the WSJ, analysts looked at premiums next year in 2,722 counties. In all but 30, at least some consumers will be able to find coverage for 2018 with no monthly premium.

The fine print:

These plans aren't actually free. They won't require consumers to make a monthly premium payment, but they still come with co-pays and deductibles. That basic dynamic, though — lower premiums, higher out-of-pocket costs — has always appealed more to healthy consumers.

Go deeper

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
44 mins ago - Economy & Business

Trump blocks banks from limiting loans to gun and oil companies

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Big banks are no longer allowed to reject business loan applicants because of the industry in which they operate, according to a new rule finalized on Thursday by the Trump administration.

Why it matters: Wall Street has curtailed its exposure to industries like guns, oil and private prisons, driven by both public and shareholder pressures. This new rule could reverse that trend.

Former FDA commissioner: "Reliable drug supply is absolutely critical"

Axios' Caitlin Owens and former FDA commissioner Mark McClellan. Photo courtesy of Axios Events

Having a reliable supply of pharmaceutical drugs throughout America will be "absolutely critical" to boosting affordability in health care during the Biden administration, former Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner Mark McClellan said at a virtual Axios Event on Friday.

The big picture: McClellan, who served under President George W. Bush, says drugs having limited supply and limited competition leads to elevated pricing. He considers drug supply to be a national security and public health issue.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
3 hours ago - Economy & Business

Americans are still spending money

Source: Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals

Americans spent more money at stores and restaurants in 2020 than they did in 2019 — even in the face of a devastating global pandemic that shut down broad sectors of the economy.

Why it matters: The monthly retail sales report this morning came in well below expectations, and showed consumer spending falling on a seasonally-adjusted basis. Total expenditures were still higher in December 2020 than they were a year previously, however.