So of 29 million people who might enter the Obamacare exchanges, about 17 million would be eligible for subsidies. That’s about 59 percent who would be eligible for taxpayer-paid assistance, versus 41 percent who are not. That’s a majority on the subsidy side, but not a huge one. Then figure that some of those who are eligible for help will only be eligible for very small subsidies. For example, a family of four in St. Louis, Missouri with one parent who earns $48,000 and another who earns $37,000 would be eligible for a subsidy — all of $13 per year, to pay for an $8,088 policy — that is virtually no help at all. (The numbers come from the Kaiser Foundation’s online subsidy calculator.)
Out of the 59 percent who are eligible for subsidies, then, some portion will receive subsidies that do not cover the increased cost of their new coverage. For them, Obamacare will be a net loss. So it’s unlikely Obamacare will actually help the full 59 percent of those eligible for subsidies by Kaiser’s estimate. The bottom line is, Obamacare could very well hurt substantially more than 41 percent of the people who are currently uninsured or purchase coverage on the individual market. That’s not exactly making the system work “better for everybody.”
And that’s not even beginning to consider the far larger number of people who receive their health coverage through work. If Obamacare means they pay more, either through work or being thrown by their employers into the exchanges, the help vs. hurt ratio could change considerably, and not in the president’s favor.