Finally, some (mostly) positive news about ObamaCare: Independent estimates by Wall Street analysts and consultants find that as many as 7 million people could qualify for free or nearly free healthcare plans, the New York Times reports. Federal subsidies would cover the cost of these plans, most of which are called bronze policies and are the least expensive plans available, for people whose income is near the Medicaid threshold. But insurers and officials aren't making a big deal about the plans, because there's a big trade-off: People with bronze plans will have to pay higher out-of-pocket costs when they get care. The plans typically cover around 60% of medical costs for the subscriber; like all the other plans, out-of-pocket costs will be limited to $6,350 per year for an individual.
"We’re not advertising zero dollar," says a senior VP at Independence Blue Cross, which offers four such plans. Rather, the company is focusing on promoting plans with very low monthly costs (say, $20 to $30); the White House is taking the same approach. Those who opt for a silver plan can get better coverage, including, in some cases, dental and vision coverage. Of course, it's not all good news today: Remember all those people who will lose their current coverage because it doesn't meet the Affordable Care Act's minimum requirements? The Washington Post reports that many are finding they'll have to accept higher premiums, deductibles, or out-of-pocket maximums on their new plans. Others will have to find new doctors, travel longer distances to a hospital that accepts their new plan, or accept changes to their coverage—including coverage for things they don't need, or cuts to coverage they actually do need. (Read more ObamaCare stories.)