By Robb Murray
Free Press Staff Writer
MANKATO — A new report released this week shows that nearly a half-million Minnesotans will be eligible for some level of tax credit subsidy if they acquire health insurance through a state-run insurance marketplace.
The report, issued by the national health consumer organization Families USA, gives a breakdown for a handful of states that will be launching so-called health insurance exchanges. The breakdown shows how many people by county groupings are eligible. It further breaks those numbers down by age group and ethnicity.
In the region that includes Blue Earth, Nicollet and Waseca counties, the data show that roughly 9,300 people will be eligible for some kind of subsidy if they choose to purchase health insurance from the state come Jan. 1.
As per the terms of the federal Affordable Care Act, states are required to have their own health insurance marketplaces set up by Oct. 1 to give people enough time to make a decision before the deadline.
The marketplace, which will only be available to people who do not get insurance through their employer, will offer four different levels of coverage: bronze (the least expensive), silver, gold and platinum (the most expensive). Subsidies will be applicable to bronze and silver plans.
Subsidies will be based on income; the people with the lowest incomes will be eligible for the largest subsidies. In general, the subsidies will cover roughly 70 percent of an individual’s or family’s premium.
“For the overwhelming majority of the people, this is going to be extraordinary help,” said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA.
About 459,000 Minnesotans will be eligible for the new tax credits in 2014. People with annual incomes between $47,100 and $94,200 for a family of four (incomes between 200 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level), will make up about 57 percent of the Minnesotans eligible for the tax credits.
About eight in ten (81 percent) of eligible Minnesotans will be white and non-Hispanic, while about 5 percent will be black and non-Hispanic and 7 percent will be Hispanic.
The subsidies will be available to individuals and families with incomes of up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level. For individuals, that figure is $46,000. For families, that figure is $94,200.
Tax credit subsidies will be paid directly from the government to the insurance carrier contemporaneously. So instead of paying out of pocket and getting reimbursed, payments will be made up front and require no reimbursement.
“The tax credit subsidies are a game changer,” Pollack said. “They will make health coverage affordable for millions of families and provide significant relief for families now purchasing health insurance.”