You've heard the term "sticker shock?"

It's what you experience when you look at the prices on new cars.

The federal government, the lawmakers who passed Obamacare, are now bracing us for "rate shock."

About half the people who now buy their own health insurance – and potentially would face higher premiums next year under President Barack Obama's health care law – would qualify for federal tax credits to offset rate shock, according to a new private study.

The study also states that many other people, however, earn too much money to be eligible for help, and could end up paying more.

The estimate, by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, tries to answer one of the biggest remaining questions about the impact of Obama's law on American families: Will consumers wince – or even balk – when they see the premiums for the new plans?

The study found that 48 percent of families currently buying their own coverage would be eligible for tax credits next year, averaging $5,548 per family, or 66 percent of the average cost of a benchmark "silver" policy offered through new state insurance markets.

"About half of the people won't be paying the sticker price," said Gary Claxton, director of the health care marketplace project at Kaiser, an information clearinghouse on the health care system. "The people who get help will get quite a lot of help."

That's double talk.

A tax credit isn't the same thing as a break in the actual rate. Those individuals who qualify for the tax break will still be paying the rate, only at tax time they will see the credit.

And who will pay for the break?

Those who pay the full rate will certainly be contributing through the taxes they pay. But even those who get the tax break are actually paying for it through the taxes they, too, pay.

What the study doesn't show is how it will affect those who have health insurance through their employers.

Just as individuals have higher insurance premiums, so will the employers, who will either have to absorb it or pass it onto workers.

This effect has already reared its ugly head with some employers already making large staff reductions to part-time status because of Obamacare.

There are some provisions of Obamacare which have been postponed. The reason is so that they don't effect elections next year. Sneaky!

Like the rate increases, though, these provisions will eventually materialize and they might not be very pretty.

It's not only insurance premiums which will be impacted through Obamacare. So will hospital rates, doctors' visits, lab tests, and anything else to do with health care.

It's just that we won't know the impact for sure until it hits us.

There are still some efforts being made by some lawmakers to have Obamacare repealed. Unfortunately, the efforts don't seem to be enough.

One of the things occurring under Obamacare is a tax penalty that will be imposed on individuals who don't have health insurance. If you can't afford the higher premiums of health insurance and drop your coverage, you'll pay more at tax time.

The federal government is warning us about the higher health insurance rates. It's the same federal government who said Obamacare was going to make things better for us.

By RON GOWER

rgower@tnonline.com