One potential piece of supporting evidence: A new report from consultancy Avalere says the exchanges are struggling to sign up the middle class. People with incomes close to the poverty line and who can buy exchange policies for just a few dollars a month are eagerly snapping up the product. More than three-quarters of the eligible folks making less than 150 percent of the federal poverty line have enrolled. But as you get north of 150 percent of the poverty line, the numbers start rapidly declining: Less than half the eligibles between 150 and 200 percent have enrolled, and by the time you get to 400 percent of the poverty line (about $47,000 for an individual), only 2 percent of those eligible have signed up. Avalere says that 83 percent of 2015 enrollees make less than 250 percent of the federal poverty line, which equates to less than $30,000 a year for a single individual.
What does that tell us? People don’t seem to want exchange policies unless there’s a substantial subsidy.