WINNER: Consumer eligible for cheap plan
Obamacare winners include everyone who has previously been shut out of having health insurance because they couldn't afford it, says Jonathan Gruber, an economics professor at MIT who is considered an architect of health care reform.
Through the tax credits that cut the cost of plans in the exchanges, someone earning $16,000 a year might pay $40 per month for health insurance, explains Tracy Watts, a partner with Mercer Human Resource Consulting in Washington, D.C. Those subsidies are available to people making up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, or about $46,000 per year for an individual.
"The lower your household income, the more you'll benefit because your premiums are based on a percentage of your income," Watts says.
Some individuals may even qualify for health insurance that costs nothing after the tax credits are applied, says Timothy Jost, a health law professor at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va. But he warns that the no-cost plans typically have prohibitively high deductibles and copayments, particularly for a low-income household.
Meanwhile, some of the health exchange plans offer low out-of-pocket costs, in addition to potentially discounted premiums, Jost says.