(March Newsletter) The Kaiser Foundation put together a report that caught our attention over here at Room One! They found that while health insurance costs stayed relatively stable in 2019 and folks who qualify for subsidies or Medicaid had access to some good insurance options, even the cheapest plans were out of reach for many of those in the middle class, and the problem was particularly acute for older adults and those living in rural areas. They also shared recent congressional proposals that address the gaps in affordability, some of which were new to us (read more about policy options & opportunities here!).
It's an interesting read, here's why it caught our attention at Room One...
A Chat by the 'Water Cooler' at Room One….
Elana (Room One Director): Hey Maureen! I saw that map on healthcare affordability for middle-income earners that you sent us. That was so interesting!
Maureen (Client Advocate): Right? It just seems so true for our community! The enrollment period was shortened this year, and we’ve really seen the impact. We’ve had a lot of people calling this month about health insurance who didn’t realize they missed the window to qualify for a healthcare subsidy, which means they are in a really difficult situation and they might not get insurance this year. I mean, some people qualify for Medicaid, which means they can enroll anytime during the year, but for others, there's not much we can do. It’s a really tough situation.
Elana: I am so sorry to hear that. Health insurance makes such a difference for people.
Maureen: Yeah, it’s really frustrating. What caught my attention in that report I sent you, is that people who don’t qualify for a subsidy or for Medicaid are often using more than 10% of their income to pay for health insurance - which we all know is more than most households can bear.
Elana: You are right on. If we put this in a newsletter, what do you think would be the most important message for us to share?
Maureen: That signing up for insurance during open enrollment is super important. And that Room One is going to double-down on outreach next year; I don’t want anyone to have to make the choice of healthcare that doesn’t fit their needs or no healthcare at all. I really don’t.
Click on the image below to see the interactive map of health insurance premiums by age, region, and income (it's worth exploring!):