More than 800,000 low- and middle-income Georgians will be eligible for tax breaks on their health care premiums starting next year, according to a new Families USA report out Wednesday.
The tax credits will be available once new health insurance exchanges start up in 2014. The exchanges are a key part of the federal health reform known as Obamacare.
Anyone with income at or below 400 percent of the federal poverty level is eligible when they buy coverage through the exchanges. That’s about $46,000 dollars a year or less for individuals and $94,000 or less for a family of four.
“These tax credits are really central to helping level that playing field so that, along with the other market reforms, people who are purchasing out on their own can get more robust benefits, they can get a tax credit, their risk is shared with others purchasing in the individual market,” said Cindy Zeldin, executive director of the consumer health advocacy group Georgians for a Healthy Future. She said that will give individual buyers the same advantages as people who get coverage at work.
“They will make health coverage affordable for huge numbers of uninsured families who would’ve been priced out of the coverage and care they need,” said Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA. “It will also be very helpful to people who are currently purchasing coverage in the individual market but who are increasingly finding it unaffordable.”
A few local examples from the report:
Nearly 15,000 residents of Augusta’s Richmond County and 12,000 in Columbus’ Muscogee County will benefit from the tax credits.
The credits will be available to more than 20,000 residents in Savannah’s Chatham County
More than 25,000 residents in middle Georgia’s Bibb, Houston, Jones, Peach and Twiggs counties also will be eligible.