Even small bills for health insurance may cause healthy low-income people to drop coverage

Twenty dollars a month might not seem like a lot to pay for health insurance. But for people getting by on $15,000 a year, it’s enough to make some drop their coverage – especially if they’re healthy. That could keep them from getting preventive or timely care, and could leave their insurance company with a sicker pool of patients than before.

ACA has helped protect low-income patients from catastrophic spending for surgery

n the years after 2014, when the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance marketplaces were established, low-income patients who underwent a surgical procedure saved an average of $601 in out-of-pocket spending and $968 in premium spending per year, compared to before the marketplaces existed. Those low-income patients also had a 35% lower chance of having catastrophic levels of household medical spending.

However, for middle-income patients, spending levels were about the same before and after the marketplaces began.