Oct 27, 2017

More people can get ACA plans with no premiums

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

The other coronavirus test we need

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Researchers are racing to develop tests that detect whether someone may have developed immunity to the coronavirus, which could help society return to normal faster.

Why it matters: These tests could help people know if they are able to go back to work, as well as aid researchers in tracking the scale and death rate of the disease — key data for current and future pandemic policies.

What the U.S. can learn from other countries in the coronavirus fight

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Note: Cases are shown on a logarithmic scale; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

The countries that have most successfully fended off the novel coronavirus have mainly done it with a combination of new technology and old-school principles.

Why it matters: There's a lot the U.S. can learn from the way other countries have handled this global pandemic — although we may not be able to apply those lessons as quickly as we'd like.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 640,589 — Total deaths: 29,848 — Total recoveries: 137,270.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 112,468 — Total deaths: 1,841 — Total recoveries: 918.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump is considering a quarantine on New York, parts of New Jersey and Connecticut. He signed a $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill to give businesses and U.S. workers economic relief.
  4. State updates: A group of Midwestern swing voters that supported President Trump's handling of the coronavirus less than two weeks ago is balking at his call for the U.S. to be "opened up" by Easter. Alaska is latest state to issue stay-at-home order — New York is trying to nearly triple its hospital capacity in less than a month. New York moved its presidential primary to June 23, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday.
  5. World updates: Italy reported 969 coronavirus deaths on Friday, the country's deadliest day. In Spain, over 1,300 people were confirmed dead between Thursday to Saturday.
  6. 🚀 Space updates: OneWeb filed for bankruptcy amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancing.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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