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People solidly in the middle class are the ones hurt by Trump's decision on Obamacare

Guy Boulton, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on

Published in Home and Consumer News

First, it's expected to end up costing the federal government more money.

Second, the people being hurt the most are the very ones who opponents of the Affordable Care Act have cited as evidence of the law's failure.

The law expanded coverage by an estimated 20 million people and required health insurers to cover people with pre-existing health conditions. But flaws in the law's design and implementation sharply increased premiums for many people who are not eligible for federal subsidies.

They are people solidly in the middle class, many of them self-employed, who have incomes above $48,240 for an individual and $98,400 for a family of four this year.

Most states have put in place a workaround that will lessen the effect of the Trump administration's decision. But those folks still will take a hit.

People who receive federal subsidies, in the form of tax credits, will be shielded from the increases. That's because what they have to pay for health insurance is capped at a percentage of their income, ranging from 2.04 percent to 9.69 percent this year.

Trying to explain all this, though, is making life difficult for insurance agents and brokers.

"Repeated, unpleasant conversations" is how Corrine Bultman of Bultman Financial Services in suburban Milwaukee characterized it.

One client, a 61-year-old lawyer, was paying $974 a month, or $11,688 a year, for a plan with a $3,000 deductible. He got a renewal letter from Common Ground Healthcare Cooperative that the premium next year would be $1,608 a month, or $19,296 a year -- and that's for single coverage.

"It's a horrible conversation to have with a client," Bultman said.

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