By Jared Bernstein
Look, I'm as ready as the next guy to call out the Obama administration for the shoddy rollout of the ACA. I'm also confident that at the end of the day, as the exchanges become more accessible and as families with incomes below four times poverty get help paying for the coverage they buy there -- coverage that for some will be of higher quality than what they had -- the reforms will first become more popular, and later become an appreciated, and probably pretty dull, part of the fabric of life in America.
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One of the problems in getting from here to there is articles like this one in yesterday's NYT. No question there are people paying more for health care under the ACA, but the examples in here seem awfully cherry-picked to support the headline claim that the new law "Frustrates many in Middle Class.
"First, let's talk middle-class. The median family income in the U.S. right now is about $62,000. For families of four, like the one featured in the piece, it's about $80,000. Income eligibility for the subsidies goes up to four times the poverty threshold, or about $94,000 for a family of four, meaning that a median-income family buying coverage on the exchange would be eligible for a subsidy. The family featured in the piece was chosen to be above the subsidy level--their income was $100,000. That's certainly a fair point and I'm not denying they're "middle-class." But the piece should have mentioned the median, or more to the point, the fact that according to Census data, the ratio of income to the the poverty threshold for families in the middle fifth of the income scale is 3.5, again, below the subsidy cutoff of 4.