Report: Millions may be skipping help with insurance bills

FILE - In this Oct. 6, 2015 file photo, the HealthCare.gov website, where people can buy health insurance, is displayed on a laptop screen in Washington. A new report is confirming that fewer people than expected are taking advantage of subsidies to purchase health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The Congressional Budget Office study, based on updated enrollment figures up through last month, says that 11 million people are likely to purchase subsidized policies under the health care law, down about 4 million from estimates issued early last year.  (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)
FILE - In this Oct. 6, 2015 file photo, the HealthCare.gov website, where people can buy health insurance, is displayed on a laptop screen in Washington. A new report is confirming that fewer people than expected are taking advantage of subsidies to purchase health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. The Congressional Budget Office study, based on updated enrollment figures up through last month, says that 11 million people are likely to purchase subsidized policies under the health care law, down about 4 million from estimates issued early last year. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) – Millions of Americans who bought individual health insurance outside the Affordable Care Act’s public exchanges may be leaving government help on the table if they skip those marketplaces again in picking 2017 coverage, a new report says.

The Department of Health and Human Services estimates that 2.5 million people who bought so-called off-exchange coverage for this year might have income levels that qualify them for tax credits to help pay the premium. The ACA’s state-based exchanges are the only marketplaces where customers can receive that financial support.

The HHS report released Tuesday doesn’t estimate how much help these shoppers might receive if they used the exchanges. It also doesn’t delve into why they shopped outside the exchanges.

The annual enrollment window for 2017 individual coverage begins Nov. 1.

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