Millions who buy health insurance brace for sharp increases

FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2017 file photo, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., accompanied by the committee's ranking member Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington. Millions of people who buy individual health insurance policies and get no government help for premiums are facing another year of double-digit premium increases and frustration is boiling over. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

WASHINGTON — Millions of people who buy individual health insurance policies and get no financial help from the Affordable Care Act are bracing for another year of double-digit premium increases, and their frustration is boiling over.

Some are expecting premiums for 2018 to rival a mortgage payment.

What they pay is tied to the price of coverage on the health insurance markets created by the Obama-era law, but these consumers get no protection from the law's tax credits, which cushion against rising premiums. Instead they pay full freight and bear the brunt of market problems such as high costs and diminished competition.

On Capitol Hill, there's a chance that upcoming bipartisan hearings by Sens. Lamar Alexander, a Republicans, and Patty Murray, a Democrat, can produce legislation offering some relief.

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