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Health care providers could raise premiums by as much as 9 percent this year to pay for benefits associated with U.S. President Barack Obama’s socialized medicine law, according to a report published earlier this week by The Wall Street Journal.

Who’s going to get hit with the higher bills?

“The rate increases largely apply to policies for individuals and small businesses and don’t include people covered by a big employer or Medicare,” the Journal story notes.

Combined, those groups represent about 30 percent of the nation’s insured population.

Once again … small businesses are taking it squarely up the ass, a sensation they’ll experience once again when they’re hit with the tax increases required to pay for this abomination.

And once small businesses can no longer afford to provide coverage, individual Americans will either have to purchase it themselves or get hit with a fine of up to 2.5 percent of their annual income.

What a country, right?

In addition to the “Obamacare”-related increases, several insurers are also raising premiums based on … wait for it … “rising medical costs,” increases which Obama promised would come to an end under his “government knows best” approach to medicine. Factoring in these increases, millions of individuals and thousands of small businesses are facing total rate increases as high as 20 percent in some states.

Last week, a report from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that health care costs went up in America this year – and were likely to increase further in the years to come.

Meanwhile, another report found that millions of American seniors were being booted from their prescription drug plans – another violation of Obama’s many health care promises.