ACA lowered out-of-pocket spending, but premiums kept rising

Out-of-pocket healthcare spending fell by 12 percent in the two years after the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was fully implemented, but premiums rose by the same percentage.

According to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, the average family spent $28.71 less on healthcare in 2014 and 2015, after most of the ACA's provisions went into effect. Those benefits were not evenly distributed, as lower-income consumers spent less while those with incomes above 400 percent of the federal poverty level saw their costs rise by $280.

“Our findings suggest that the Affordable Care Act reduced out-of-pocket costs for many Americans,” Anna Goldman, MD, a primary care doctor at Cambridge Health Alliance and the report’s lead author, told CNBC. “But the ACA didn't stem the steady rise in families' premiums. Overall, the law helped ease families' medical cost burden, but there is plenty of room for progress.”

The benefits for low-income consumers can be attributed to the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, which “generally required enrollees to pay neither premiums nor co-payments.”

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