WASHINGTON (AP) — About half the people who now buy their own health insurance — and potentially would face higher premiums next year under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) — would qualify for federal tax credits to offset rate shock, according to a new private study.
Many other people, however, earn too much money to be eligible for help, and could end up paying more.
The estimate, released Wednesday by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, tries to answer one of the biggest remaining questions about the impact of Obama’s law on American families: Will consumers wince — or even balk — when they see the premiums for the new plans?
The study found that 48 percent of families currently buying their own coverage would be eligible for tax credits next year, averaging $5,548 per family, or 66 percent of the average cost of a benchmark “silver” policy offered through new state insurance markets.
“About half of the people won’t be paying the sticker price,” said Gary Claxton, director of the health care marketplace project at Kaiser, an information clearinghouse on the health care system. “The people who get help will get quite a lot of help.”
“Many, but certainly not all, of the people who don’t get tax credits will pay more,” he said. “How much more will be a function of a lot of different things.”
For example, some people who don’t qualify for tax credits may get jobs that offer coverage, added Claxton, a co-author of the study. And the bottom line on premiums may not be clear until sometime this fall, after the Health and Human Services Department releases rates for more than 30 states where the federal government is taking the lead setting up new insurance markets for individuals and small businesses.
People can enroll starting Oct. 1, and coverage becomes effective Jan. 1. Most people currently covered by employer plans are not affected.