Overall, before the ACA became law, 1 in 4 55- to 64-year-olds buying coverage on their own either couldn't get it at all because of a pre-existing condition or couldn't afford it, according to AARP.
"The aging but pre-Medicare population was our major reason to support the ACA then and it still is now," said David Certner, director of legislative policy at AARP. "This group benefited enormously from the law, and we think society and the economy benefited, too."
Just how many 55- to 64-years-olds have been liberated from job lock by the ACA has yet to be fully assessed. But recent data show that 18 percent of people ages 55 to 64 who were still working in 2015 got coverage through the ACA marketplaces, up from 11.6 percent in 2013, according to an analysis for this article by the Employee Benefit Research Institute.
Also, a report released in January 2017 by the outgoing Obama administration found that 1 in 5 ACA marketplace enrollees of any age was a small-business owner or self-employed person.
A bipartisan effort is underway in Congress to provide dedicated funds to woo enrollees to HealthCare.gov and help state agencies explain changes in the law for 2018 triggered by the Trump administration. But the fate of the proposed legislation is uncertain.
The Clarks said they'll look carefully at options to keep their premiums affordable in 2018.
Said Don Clark: "If we get to a point where we have a $10,000 deductible and pay 40 percent or more of our income for health insurance, I'm not sure what we'll do. We can't afford that."
(Kaiser Health News (KHN) is a national health policy news service. It is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.)
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