Tax Credits

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Study: Californians Qualify for $2.3 Billion in Insurance Subsidies

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

By Jenny Gold, Kaiser Health News

Americans have already qualified for about $10 billion in tax credits to help them purchase private health insurance this year through the Affordable Care Act, according to a study from the Kaiser Family Foundation. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)

That’s an average of $2,890 for each of the 3.5 million people who qualified for a subsidy as of March 1 — about 83 percent of those who enrolled in an exchange plan.

Eighty-eight percent of those who have enrolled in Covered California qualified for a subsidy, according to the study.

California had an even higher percentage of people qualifying for a tax credit. Eighty-eight percent of those who have enrolled in Covered California qualified for a subsidy, according to the study. That means a total of 765,000 people in the state will receive tax credits. The study estimates those credits are worth $2.3 billion.

The state also beat another national average. Forty percent of all subsidy eligible Californians had enrolled in a health plan by March 1st. That’s double the national figure, where only 20 percent of those who could get a tax credit had signed up on a health exchange.

Sign-up rates varied greatly by state.  More than half of the subsidy money allotted so far will go to consumers in California, Florida, North Carolina, Texas and New York.

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No Wonk: How Obamacare Subsidies Work for Consumers

By Julie Appleby, Kaiser Health News

subsidies key 300Tax credits to help low- and moderate-income Americans buy health insurance will become available in January under the health law, when for the first time, most people will be required to have coverage or pay a fine.

The process could be complicated for some consumers, but information about how the system will work may help.

Cathy Livingston, a lawyer in Washington, D.C., who specializes in tax issues involving the federal health law, spoke recently with KHN about how to find out if you’re eligible for a premium subsidy and how the process will work. Before joining the law firm, Livingston worked in the Office of Chief Counsel for the IRS.

The credits are available to people who don’t get what is considered affordable, comprehensive coverage through their jobs, and whose household income is less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level, which this year is about $46,000 for an individual, or about $78,000 for a family of three. (Families USA has a great chart so you can match up your household size and income to see if you are under 400 percent of poverty.)

Most of the 7 million people projected to shop for coverage in new online health insurance marketplaces, also called exchanges, will be eligible for the subsidies, expected to average $5,290 per enrollee.

People who don’t have insurance coverage could face fines, which are $95 per adult and $47.50 per child the first year, or 1 percent of family income, whichever is greater. The fines will rise in later years.

Here is an excerpt, edited for length and clarity, of Livingston’s conversation with KHN staff writer Julie Appleby.

Q: The law bases eligibility on household income. What does that include? Continue reading