More Americans Choose Health Insurance over Exemption

health care exchange costs

One of the biggest worries about the implementation of the Health Care Exchange was the availability of exemptions. If too many people claimed an exemption, there would not be enough insured individuals in the program to make it financially stable. Surprisingly, most Americans, even many who would qualify for an exemption, are choosing to purchase health insurance anyway.

Relaxed Rules but Few Applying for Exemptions

The Washington Post reports that approximately 77,000 health care applicants and families have asked for exemptions. To date, no exemption has been rejected, but many have yet to be processed.

That’s a small group when compared to the 8 million individuals who have already enrolled despite an exemption system that offers vague “hardship” categories that let people opt out of health care without penalty. It’s early still, but the Obama administration estimates 12 million will apply for an exemption in 2016.

Related: Soaring ACA Enrollment Numbers Might Help or Hurt Health Insurance Rates

Better Coverage on the Exchange

Most of the exemptions to date come from Native American tribes because they already receive health care through the Indian Health Service, paid for by the federal government. Interestingly, many Native Americans signed up for the health care exchange coverage because it’s better than what they currently receive.

Aside from Native Americans, many religious groups encourage members to file for an exemption based on religious grounds.

Higher Out-of-Pocket Expenses

It’s not yet clear why so few are opting out. One reason might be that employees have experienced higher health costs in the last few years. According to CNN Money, workers are paying $1,200 more for health care through their employers than they did just three years ago, most of it in out-of-pocket expenses.

These individuals might realize that paying for health insurance through the exchange is more cost effective and a better option than not carrying insurance at all should a medical emergency arise.

Photo credit: Colin Dunn