A health care advocacy group says this morning that 745,000 Michiganders are expected to be eligible for refundable tax credits on their insurance premiums when a key portion of the Affordable Care Act kicks in next year.
Families USA, an advocacy group based in Washington, released a report showing how many people in each of Michigan's counties are expected to be eligible to receive tax subsidies on their premiums.
Households with annual incomes of up to four times the federal poverty limit -- for a family of four that's as high as $94,200 in income a year -- would be eligible for the credits if they don't already have insurance through an employer and could get their coverage through a new policy exchange to be set up by the federal government.
The credits -- which would also be available to workers who pay more than 9.5% of their income for an employer-sponsored plan or who fall under a plan where their employer covers less than 60% of the costs of their coverage -- are on a sliding scale, with more going to people who earn less and less going to people who earn more.
"It's going to make it possible for people to afford health care," U.S. Rep. John Dingell, D-Dearborn, said on a conference call with reporters held by Families USA.
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Families USA contracted with the Lewin Group, a health care research firm, to look into how many people will receive the tax credit subsidies, taking into account not only how many people at different income levels currently go without insurance or pay more for it than they would under the Affordable Care Act, but also look at how employers may change their programs to take advantage of the credits and the health care exchanges.
The exchanges would offer a range of plans for individuals and families, with different costs, and the plans competing for buyers.
"It's not that people don't want health care coverage," said U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township, who also took part in the call. "It's that they simply can't afford it."
Enrollment in the exchanges is expected to begin in October of this year with coverage -- and the tax credits, which can be directly applied to insurance premiums to bring down the costs -- beginning next year.
According to Families USA's report, more than half the people eligible for tax credits will have incomes between two and four times the federal poverty limit. Wayne County will have the largest number of those eligible, with 147,290 people, followed by Oakland (72,250), Macomb (59,290) and Kent (45,640) counties.
The report said about 75% of the Michiganders eligible for premium tax credits will be white, non-Hispanic and 13% will be black, non-Hispanic.
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