Free Obamacare? Yes, So Why Isn’t Anyone Talking About It?

Bronze may sound like the most valuable medal when it comes to the Affordable Care Act.

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Many of us have heard President Obama’s boast that a monthly health insurance bill under Obamacare could be less than the size of a cell phone or cable bill for many Americans. According to several new studies, millions of Americans could actually pay far less than that. They could pay nothing.

The health insurance marketplace under the Affordable Care Act is organized in four tiers: platinum, gold, silver and bronze plans. The platinum plans have the highest premiums, lower copays and deductibles, while the opposite is true of bronze plans at the other end of the lineup.

As the New York Times reported Monday, the bronze tiers, which would render health insurance free for many qualifiers, have not been widely promoted.

The Times got three independent expert estimates, and found that up to 7 million people could qualify for the plans. At the same time, they discovered that both insurance companies and the federal government have been holding back on promoting them. 

One worry is that the lure of "free" may tempt people to sign up for a plan that isn’t right for them. These bronze plans are ideal for those of us that are healthy and rarely go to the doctor, but they are not for everyone, especially not for people who make regular visits to the doctor.

Furthermore, some insurers worry that by publicizing free insurance options, they may irritate customers who are not eligible for the no-cost plans. The Times reports that Independence Blue Cross in Philadelphia has a handful of free health insurance options but they don’t push them “for fear of alienating customers who will need to pay more.”

Cat’s out of the bag now. As someone who visited the doctor only two times so far this year, I’m going to give these lower tier plans a lot of thought, especially as there’s an annual out-of-pocket limit to every plan.

If you are similarly intrigued, read the whole article.