published Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

Analysis: A million Georgians and Tennesseans eligible for tax credits if they buy Obamacare online

NASHVILLE - A new analysis finds that 387,000 Tennesseeans and 654,000 Georgians are eligible for tax credits if they buy their health care policies on the online insurance exchanges created under the federal Affordable Care Act.

The Kaiser Family Foundation’s state-by-state analysis estimates 17 million people nationally will be eligible for tax credits under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, next year if they purchase coverage through the new exchanges.

Obamacare’s federally operated exchanges, which cranked up Oct. 1, have gotten off to a rocky start. That’s due to major problems with computer software that was supposed to provide users a seamless experience in signing up for the program and comparing and selecting insurance policies.

President Barack Obama has pledged to have the problems fixed by the end of November. Meanwhile, some states that opted to run their own exchanges have had far better experiences. Other states have not fared as well.

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, both Republicans, decided not to run their own exchanges.

To qualify for tax credits, people must earn between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level, which comes to between $23,550 and $94,200 annually for a family of four. They also can’t be eligible for affordable coverage from an employer or from Medicaid or Medicare.

People who are in the country illegally or are in prison are not eligible for tax credits.

The law also envisions expanding health care access further through state expansions of the Medicaid program for the poor. Deal is not going along with expansion. Haslam isn't either, at least so far, although he says he is trying to get federal officials to approve an idea of his own on handling the expansion.

In states that do expand their Medicaid programs, uninsured people with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level will qualify. In states that choose not to expand, uninsured residents with incomes between 100 percent and 138 percent of the poverty level, generally will be eligible for tax credits and participate in the exchanges.

Those with incomes below the poverty level generally will be left without assistance, Kaiser says.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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