Health
4:13 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

Health care tax credits available for 745,000 Michiganders next year

Nearly three-quarters of a million Michiganders will qualify for a federal tax subsidy to help pay for health care premiums in 2014.
Credit moderncog / MorgueFile

Beginning in October, people can sign up to get help paying for health coverage under of the Affordable Care Act.

In Michigan, some 745,000 people will qualify, according to Families USA, a national non-profit organization for health care consumers.

Executive director Ron Pollack says in Michigan, 91 percent of those who will qualify for the tax credit are working families.

"In Wayne County, we estimate it's over 147,000 people; in Oakland County it's about 72,000 people; in Macomb County it's over 59,000 and in Kent County it's almost 46,000," Pollack says.

"The overwhelming majority -- about two-thirds -- are between 18 and 54 years old," Pollack says. "And mind you, for young adults, this is going to be tremendously important because these tax credit subsidies are available for people with incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level, which for a person living alone, is about $46,000. For a four-person family, it's a little over $94,000."

Pollack says the subsidies will be provided on a sliding scale, so those with lesser incomes will receive higher payments.

The Families U.S.A. report also looked at ethnic and racial breakdowns of who'll qualify for the subsidies.

"Throughout the state, about three-quarters of those eligible for the tax credits are white and non-Hispanic," Pollack says. "Thirteen percent are black and non-Hispanic and six-and-a-half percent are Hispanic."

The demographics do vary significantly from county to county, the report says. For example, it found 47 percent of those eligible for subsidies in Wayne County are white and non-Hispanic; 40 percent are black and eight percent are Hispanic.

In Oakland County, about 71 percent of those who can get the tax credits are white or non-Hispanic; about 14 percent are black or non-Hispanic and just under 10% are Hispanic. The breakdown is similar in Kent County.

How will the funding work?

"These subsidies will not require people to pay out of pocket and then get reimbursed by the Internal Revenue Service," Pollack says. "When someone qualifies for the tax credit, the IRS will pay the health insurer that the individual has selected. As a result, the individual or family will have a much smaller amount they have to pay for the premiums."

Pollack says enrollment will begin on Oct. 1 and will continue through March 31, 2014.

"You can enroll either by going to the marketplace that will be established in Michigan, or you can do it online, by phone or by mail," he says. "But many people are probably going to need some assistance, and there will be groups of people referred to as navigators who will help them."

The "navigator" program hasn't yet been unveiled.

"This will be announced fairly soon," Pollack says. "This will be different from one state to the other, but probably within the next two months there will be an announcement of how to reach them."

He says guidance will be important for many people as they learn about the new tax credit program.

"Remember, so many people who are uninsured have not had an easy time during with the insurance system, and these forms will take a little time to fill out."