Study: Half who buy own health plan to get aid

WASHINGTON – About half the people who now buy their own health insurance – and potentially would face higher premiums next year under the Affordable Care Act – 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, being released today by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, tries to answer one of the biggest remaining questions about the new health care 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. “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, Claxton said. The bottom line on premiums may not be clear until sometime this fall, after the Health and Human Services Department releases rates.

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