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The Baffling Math That Determines What People Actually Pay for Obamacare

The Baffling Math That Determines What People Actually Pay for Obamacare
Photography by Sean De Burca/Corbis

The Obamacare marketplaces opened for business over the weekend, and so far the website is working better than last year. That doesn’t mean picking a plan is easy. One of the difficulties shoppers face: How much they’ll pay for health insurance is determined by lots of factors that individuals can’t control—and those factors can change in unexpected ways.

Officials and experts are urging people to look at different plans, even if they’re fine with the coverage they bought last year, because premiums are going up. But most people in the Affordable Care Act marketplaces don’t pay the full premium price: Last year, 87 percent of those shopping on the federal healthcare.gov site got subsidies to reduce their costs of coverage. And it turns out those credits are also changing in the new plan year.