Tax credits may help 270,000 Utahns afford health coverage in 2014

The tax credits are designed for uninsured individuals and families with incomes up to 400 percent of the poverty level who shop for insurance using online exchanges, which will open for enrollment in each state in October.

The credits will vary depending on income. They become available in January and will be paid directly each month to insurance companies. Consumers will then pay the balance due on their premiums.

“The tax credit subsidies are a game-changer: They will make health coverage affordable for huge numbers of uninsured families who would have been priced out of the health coverage and care they need,” said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, in a conference call with reporters.

The nonprofit, which advocates for affordable health care, hired The Lewin Group to analyze how many Americans will be eligible for the tax credits. The estimates are based on data from the 2010 Census.

Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), most Americans who do not have health insurance starting in 2014 will face financial penalties. The tax credits are calculated to ensure people spend no more than a specified percentage of their income on premiums.

Generally, the credits will be available to people who have incomes between 138 and 400 percent of poverty — which in 2013 is between $ 15,860 and $ 45,960 for an individual, and between $ 32,500 and $ 94,200 for a family of four, according to Families USA.

About 56 percent of eligible Utahns will be in middle class families with incomes between $ 47,100 and $ 94,200 for a family of four, the Families USA report said.

The ACA envisioned poor uninsured Americans getting coverage through expanded state Medicaid programs, which provide publicly-funded coverage. Utah Gov. Gary Herbert has not yet decided whether the state will expand its program. The number of uninsured eligible for subsidies could rise in states that opt out of the expansion, according to Families USA.

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