Credits to help many pay for health plans
More than 50,000 will be eligible for help
CAPITAL REGION More than 50,000 people in the Capital Region will be eligible next year for subsidies from the Affordable Care Act to purchase health insurance.
Families USA, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization focused on affordable health care, released a report Tuesday that said about 1.5 million New Yorkers would be eligible for help in purchasing health insurance in 2014. People can start applying for the credit in October, when state health exchanges go online and health insurance can be competitively purchased.
A vast majority, almost 88 percent, of the people eligible for the credits in New York come from working families or are working individuals. Individuals making between $15,860 and $45,960 annually and families of four bringing in between $32,500 and $94,200 would be eligible for the credits.
The credits, which are based on a progressive sliding scale, are given directly to the health insurance company to offset premium costs. Credits would range from $630 to $4,480 for an individual and $3,550 to $11,430 for a family of four, depending on annual income.
According to the report, there are 11,860 people eligible for the credits in Schenectady County, 14,150 in Saratoga County, 17,750 in Albany County and 8,680 in Fulton and Montgomery counties combined.
U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam, an advocate of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, said many people aren’t aware of the help that will be available to purchase insurance.
“This happens with a lot of new laws,” he said. “You have to get the information out there.”
Open enrollment begins in October for the state’s health exchange system, which is required under Obamacare. The exchange will be a marketplace where consumers can shop for health insurance providers. A variety of plans will be offered in the marketplaces, with consumers able to choose the type of plan that fits their needs.
Tonko described the health exchanges as a free market solution to driving down the price of health insurance.
The credits are also available to people who pay more than 9.5 percent of their wages to belong to their employer’s plan and workers whose employer’s plan pays less than 60 percent of the cost of covered benefits.
Ron Pollak, executive director of Families USA, described the credits as a “game changer” for people trying to purchase health insurance on their own.
“These tax credits will bring peace of mind to 1.5 million New Yorkers,” he said.
Pollak also noted that Obamacare ensures that for people making less than 250 percent of the federal poverty level, $28,725 for an individual, there will be limits on out-of-pocket expenses such as copayments and deductibles.
Taken all together, Tonko said these measures will go a long way towards bending the health care cost curve. This, he said, will result in healthier people paying less for health care.
People taking advantage of the credits must estimate their salary for the upcoming year. If they end up making more than expected, their taxes the following year will reflect that they should have receive a smaller credit. Tonko said this is a consequence of trying to create a progressive system.