USA Today: For 3 million, ‘affordable’ health care might not be

Julie Appleby, Kaiser Health News

For millions, subsidies don’t kick in until up to 9.5% of their income goes to premiums.

The lure used to get uninsured Americans to sign up for health law coverage was the promise of generous premium subsidies.

The promise comes with a catch for almost 3 million people earning three to four times the federal poverty rate: They may have to pay up to 9.5% of their income toward that premium before the government subsidy kicks in. That could take a substantial bite from their budgets — potentially as much as $600 a month for a family of three earning $58,590 to $78,120.

As a result, some middle-class families may decide health insurance is beyond their reach and pay a penalty rather than buy coverage. Though consumers in that income range account for a relatively small share of the 17.2 million eligible for subsidies to buy private insurance, that could still spell political trouble for the law. Insurers could see problems if premium costs deter the sign-up of healthy enrollees, whom they need to offset the costs of covering the sick.

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