ObamaCare's losers and why they matter

But not every form of “asking some people to pay more” is created equal. A cap on the tax break for employer-provided health insurance, for instance — which is central to most right-of-center health care proposals, and is taking effect in a more limited way in the form of Obamacare’s so-called “Cadillac tax” on expensive insurance plans — basically asks people who have been getting a very good deal from current health care policy (the well-off and upper middle class, and some union members with generous benefit packages) to live with a somewhat smaller subsidy and somewhat less generous employer coverage going forward. (For a more specific illustration of how this works, you can read Josh Barro explaining it using the example of Senator Ted Cruz and his wife.) This policy change isn’t cost free, and it would still violate President Obama’s unwise “if you like your plan, you can keep it” pledge. But it promises to level the health-insurance playing field somewhat while asking the most from those Americans who have benefited from its existing tilt.

But “rate shock” seems different, because premium increases in the individual market creates a set of Obamacare losers within a group of people who weren’t obviously winners to begin with. A couple like the Harrises of Fullerton, California, for instance, making $80,000 a year and buying on the individual market in a high cost-of-living state, were already disadvantaged relative to the millions Americans who get insurance through an employer and benefit from the employer tax break; now they’ll be paying an extra $1500 a year as well (albeit, yes, perhaps for more comprehensive coverage). …

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