The New York Times has finally conceded what critics of Obamacare have been claiming–the so-called “Affordable Care Act” devastates the country’s middle class families who “are caught in the uncomfortable middle: not poor enough for help, but not rich enough to be indifferent to cost.”
The Times profiles a family of four in New Hampshire with an annual income of around $100,000. Right now, “the cheapest insurance plan” they can find on the exchanges is about $1,000 a month. But if “they made just a few thousand dollars less a year — below $94,200 — their costs would be cut in half, because a family like theirs could qualify for federal subsidies.”
“Many of the biggest provisions of the Affordable Care Act are aimed squarely at the poorest of Americans,” the Times writes. “Under the law, states have the option of expanding Medicaid to a larger pool of people with the lowest incomes. To those earning more, the law provides subsidies to people earning up to four times the federal poverty level, or $45,960 for an individual and $62,040 for a couple.”
But middle class Americans, with incomes much lower than the family of four in New Hampshire, will get decimated. An analysis by the Times found those in the middle class may have to pay nearly 20% of their income on Obamacare. To put that in perspective, “experts consider health insurance unaffordable once it exceeds 10 percent of annual income.” Consider these examples:
- A 60-year-old living in Polk County, in northwestern Wisconsin, and earning $50,000 a year, for example, would have to spend more than 19 percent of his income, or $9,801 annually, to buy one of the cheapest plans available there. A person earning $45,000 would qualify for subsidies and would pay about 5 percent of his income, or $2,228, for an inexpensive plan.
- In Oklahoma City, a 60-year-old earning $50,000 could buy one of the cheapest plans for about 6.6 percent of his income, or about $3,279 a year with no subsidy. If he earned $45,000, with the benefit of a subsidy, he would spend about $2,425.
- Christian Johnsen, a bakery owner who lives with his wife and two children in Big Sky, Mont., and has an income of about $88,000, will probably be eligible for subsidies next year. As a result, the family could buy a midlevel insurance plan for about $697 a month. But if the bakery does better next year, the family could be asked to pay a lot more. Without any subsidy, the same plan would cost $822.
Americans have often felt they were “middle class” if they could not afford to pay their kids’ college tuition without taking out loans but did not qualify for financial aid. Obamacare may give Americans a new way to determine if they are “middle class.”