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Column: Obamacare tidbits you likely never knew about

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Did you hear the latest news about Obamacare?

Probably not. Even though it is important news you need to know so you can make smart decisions that will help you and your family.

Newsbreak: The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office issued a new analysis showing that the Affordable Care Act, the plan known as Obamacare that guarantees your insurance cannot be denied or canceled because of a pre-existing health problem, will cost the government less than expected and in many ways it is doing much better than you thought.

Especially if you’ve been getting most of your info from the Republican and tea party leaders who want you to think “Obamacare” is a four-letter word.

But when you dig deeper into the budget office analysis you also will find numbers that show President Barack Obama’s health care plan has flaws that we need to start fixing — now. But that’s not something you’ve heard from Democratic leaders. Because rolling up sleeves and getting to work is not the way things happen here in Hate City these days.

Here’s the good news from the report: The Affordable Care Act will cost the government $5 billion less for this year than the budget office had projected in February and an additional $104 billion less than it projected for 2015 to 2024. These savings mean the deficit for 2014 will be $22 billion lower than the budget office forecast just two months ago.

Just about all of that savings is achieved because government’s subsidies for health insurance premiums will be $300 cheaper this year (a 6 percent reduction) than last projected and $1,200 (14 percent) less through 2024. Indeed, premiums are now 15 percent less than was projected before the Affordable Care Act became law. The subsidies are lower than expected because the premiums are lower than expected. And that’s because the programs offered in the health insurance exchanges offer a narrower range of doctors and hospitals than was expected.

But here’s the more problematic Obamacare news you need to know: The budget office also projects your Affordable Care Act health insurance premiums, though now lower than originally expected, will rise at an estimated 6 percent a year from 2016 to 2024.

Still, that’s 15 percent less than the budget office estimated back in 2009.

Finally, here’s the bottom line for Obamacare’s goal of helping those who need help most: The budget office reports that 25 million people will be insured through health insurance exchanges — and an additional 13 million more will be covered through Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (for families with incomes above Medicaid’s ceiling) — who wouldn’t have had health insurance without enactment of the new law.

And we need to always remember that we all have been paying for the health care of those who have been uninsured — and paying for it in the most expensive way possible, as the uninsured were treated in hospital emergency rooms.

Martin Schram writes political analysis for McClatchy-Tribune News Service. Send comments to letters@dailyjournal.net.

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