Group expects 600,000 in state to qualify for health care credits

Staff writerApril 18, 2013 

Nearly 600,000 Washington residents will be eligible for premium tax credits to help defray the cost of medical care when the the Affordable Care Act goes into effect early next year.

In a report released Wednesday, the consumer group Families USA said 597,620 Washingtonians will be eligible for the tax credits.

Eligibility will be based on family income. The amount of coverage the credits will buy depends on the health plan an individual of family chooses.

A range of plans – at four coverage levels – will be offered within an insurance marketplace, or “exchange.”

The amount of the credits will be based on a sliding income scale based on family income and size. The amount of the credits will be pegged to the “silver reference plan,” or the plan with the second-lowest cost of the four plans that will be made available.

Should a consumer choose a more expensive plan, he or she will pay the difference in price between that plan and the silver plan.

The premium tax credits take effect in January, following an open enrollment period that will begin in October.

Statewide, people employed in either full- or part-time positions will represent 87.9 percent of those eligible for the credits, while 12.1 percent will be unemployed.

Ethnically, of those eligible, 67.3 percent will be white, 3 percent black, 15.6 percent Hispanic and 14.1 percent classified as “other,” according to the report.

The report estimates that and 20,760 persons in Thurston County and 70,610 persons in Pierce County will be eligible for the credits. In Thurston County 88.2 percent will be employed. That number will be 87.6 percent in Pierce County.

Statewide, people with annual incomes between $47,100 and $94,200, for a family of four, will comprise 57 percent of state residents eligible for the credit.

The Affordable Care Act, according to the report, requires every state to have a new regulated insurance marketplace or exchange where consumers and small businesses can purchase health insurance plans.

Those plans must meet a series of minimum requirements, and the details must be clearly explained to consumers.

The full report, “Help Is at Hand: New Health Insurance Tax Credits in Washington,” is available at

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