Rising Obamacare costs frighten some early retirees

Don is retired and Debra works part time a couple of days a week. As a result, along with about 20 million other Americans, they buy health insurance in the individual market.

But the Clarks are not happy at all with what they pay for their coverage — $1,400 a month for a plan with a $4,500 deductible. Nor are they looking forward to the Affordable Care Act's fifth open enrollment period, which runs from Nov. 1 through Dec. 15 in most states.

Many insurers are raising premiums by double digits, in part because of the Trump administration's decision to stop payments to insurers that cover the discounts they are required to give to some low-income customers to cover out-of-pocket costs.

"This has become a nightmare," said Don Clark. "We are now spending about 30% of our income on health insurance and health care. We did not plan for that."

The Clarks' experience points to an emerging shortfall in the ACA's promise of easier access to affordable health insurance for early retirees and the self-employed. Rising premiums and deductibles, recent actions by the Trump administration and unceasing political fights over the law threaten those benefits for millions of older Americans.

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