June 24, 2018
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Report: 77,000 Mainers eligible for Obamacare tax credits

By Jackie Farwell, BDN Staff

About 77,000 Maine residents who are uninsured or buy their own health insurance will qualify for tax credits next year to help them afford coverage under Obamacare, according to a new analysis released Tuesday.

Those Mainers represent just over 60 percent of the 122,000 residents who could potentially shop for health insurance through new online marketplaces created by the president’s health care overhaul, the Kaiser Family Foundation analysis found.

The tax credits are one of two types of federal financial assistance available through the marketplaces. The credits will help low- and moderate-income people to afford health insurance by offsetting some of the cost of their monthly premium. Subsidies are also available to lower consumers’ out of pocket costs, including deductibles and co-payments.

Both types of assistance depend on income and family size. To qualify for tax credits, consumers must earn between 100 and 400 percent of the poverty level (between $23,550 and $94,200 annually for a family of four). The “cost-sharing subsidies” are available to those with incomes of up to 250 percent of the poverty level ($58,875 for a family of four).

Nationally, 29 million Americans could potentially shop on the marketplaces under the Affordable Care Act, the Kaiser analysis found. Sixty percent, or 17 million, will be eligible for tax credits.

The number of people who actually sign up for insurance through the marketplaces is expected to be far lower in the first year, however. The Congressional Budget Office projects that 7 million people will use the marketplaces in 2014, with 6 million qualifying for tax credits.

The marketplaces launched on Oct. 1, but the botched rollout of healthcare.gov, the federal website to the marketplaces in Maine and more than 30 other states, has stymied many consumers hoping to sign up for insurance.

The marketplaces are geared toward uninsured people and those who buy private health insurance on their own, rather than get coverage through an employer. Individuals who have insurance through work or government programs such as Medicaid and Medicare don’t need to use the marketplaces.

Those who earn more than 400 percent of the poverty level will pay full price for their health policies through the marketplaces. People earning less than the poverty level also won’t qualify for financial help in states including Maine that opted against expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Here, about 25,000 poor and uninsured people fall into that “coverage gap,” earning too much to qualify for the existing Medicaid program, called MaineCare, but too little to qualify for assistance buying a plan in the new marketplace, a previous Kaiser analysis found.

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