*Jennifer - Not sure if I'm reading your post correctly but is it your opinion that a person should ensure he/she has earned enough to avoid receiving an ObamaCare subsidy prior to embarking on the PCT or would you be willing for that person to accept a taxpayer subsidy?
Conventionally, most need to save about $5500 minimum to embark on the PCT (quoted from those who did it) but the vast majority will need employment to pay other bills while working to save; assume their own place (rent/deposit), groceries, utilities (w/deposits), other insurance, nights out. etc...and, assume an auto/gas, that's $2,000 per month living expenses, ... all while saving the previous sum (places with excellent public transport are more expensive, so call it even). Plus the cheapest bronze plan requires higher deductibles and copays, so that should be in the budget too and added to the $5500 (~$6500 - $7000?). With monthly expenses, direct subsidies fade away as the needed taxable income is added up.
We calculated $1.5K/mo minimum was needed to survive in one of the cheapest US zip codes -El Paso TX/Ft. Bliss - about a decade ago (Source: Three of my officer assignments were in admin, helping troops and families with financial planning with civilian social workers). Now, no-to-low income types have Medicaid take over but if I am reading right, it's very rare for to be covered out of state (if that's important). Some might hike with current savings (already taxed) but in America? That's about as rare as Ted Cruz and Rand Paul riding into the Senate together on a rainbow colored unicorn. My experience is younger couples buy more house and more car than their budget can support, and if still married by middle age, keeping the wife (current + exes) and kids "in style".