WINNER: Poor person now Medicaid-eligible
Medicaid, the health insurance program for low-income Americans, has been expanded in 25 states and the District of Columbia to include all adults under age 65 with a modified adjusted gross income of less than about $16,000 for individuals and $32,500 for a family of four. Before Obamacare, Medicaid coverage was limited to specific categories of poor people, such as parents, children and pregnant women.
"The ACA allows states to expand their Medicaid coverage to people who are at 138 percent of the poverty level," says Watts, of Mercer. "If you go online to the exchange and your income is below the limit, the site will automatically send you to the Medicaid site where you can get no-cost or very low-cost insurance. The other benefit of Medicaid is that there are very low out-of-pocket costs when you use it."
Low-income consumers, whether they qualify for Medicaid or a plan on the exchange, are the biggest winners from Obamacare, says MIT's Gruber, who helped design the federal health care overhaul and the earlier health reform in Massachusetts.