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Study: Half who now buy own health plan to get aid

Published: Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013 11:16 a.m. CDT

WASHINGTON — About half the people who now buy their own health insurance — and potentially would face higher premiums next year under President Barack Obama’s health care law — 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 nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation 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.”

It’s expected that a clear majority of customers in the new markets will be eligible for tax credits. That’s because the pool will also include uninsured people, who tend to have lower incomes than those who can currently afford to buy their own.

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