1.6M in Florida Eligible for Health Insurance Tax Credits

Nov 5, 2013

Around 17 million Americans, including almost 1.6 million Floridians, qualify for subsidized premiums for 2014 on the Health Insurance Marketplace under the Affordable Care Act, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. (The subsidies are actually tax credits taken upfront, at the point of purchase.) 

Meanwhile, a separate study from McKinsey & Co. shows that 20 to 25 percent of uninsured Floridians should be eligible for a plan with no premium, after discounts are taken. Nationally, the study estimates that 6 to 7 million could qualify for zero-premium bronze plans.

The Kaiser analysis, released Tuesday, estimates that altogether 29 million Americans could eventually look for coverage on the Marketplace, although only a fraction of them are expected to sign up for 2014. Of those expected to sign up there at some point, KFF estimates that 12 million would buy coverage without the benefit of tax credits. 

Those who are expected to use the Marketplace are mostly in two groups: the uninsured and those who have been buying individual or family policies because they don't have access to good group plans.

The KFF analysis released Tuesday concluded that just three states--Texas, California and Florida -- account for a third of those who qualify for tax credits, about 5.5 million (see state-by-state estimates).

To be sure, the enrollment process in Florida and other states that depend on the federal online exchange has gotten off to a rocky start because of technical problems. While some states that have their own exchanges are doing well, others are not.

The other study, by McKinsey's Center for U.S. Health System Reform, is "Exchanges go live: Early trends in exchange dynamics." It concluded that some states, including Florida, offer a large number of plan choices with widely varying premiums, not all of which make sense. For example, in Colorado, the study says, one "bronze" plan -- supposed to be the lowest cost level -- costs more than several of the plans at the highest-coverage "platinum"  level.

To be sure, the McKinsey study data were drawn under daunting conditions: The team obtained the information by going on the Marketplace websites -- that of the federal government at Healthcare.gov and those of the states that are sponsoring their own -- during the first two weeks after the Oct. 1 launch.

As is widely known, Healthcare.gov and several state sites were down or slow to load during much of that time.

In Florida and other states that did not expand Medicaid,  tax credits will not be available to help those below the poverty level sign up for coverage. The poverty level for an individual is just under $11,500 and for a couple is just over $15,500.