Obamacare is premised on the idea that all Americans should have health insurance, which will keep down health care costs for society over the long run.
But since many people can’t afford insurance, the law will soon provide help through sliding-scale subsidies.
A new report from the advocacy group Families USA shows almost 2.6 million Texans will be eligible for the subsidies.
About 17 percent of them live in Harris County.
“The tax credit subsidies are a game changer.”
Ron Pollack directs Families USA.
“They will make health coverage affordable for huge numbers of uninsured families who would have been priced out of the health coverage and care they need.”
The report found that most of the eligible Texans do work but their jobs don’t offer health insurance, or their pay is so low they can’t afford it.
Congressman Pete Gallego is a Democrat from the Big Bend area. He says those families struggle, but they are not so poor that they would qualify for insurance under Medicaid.
“The folks that get squeezed out are always the folks in the middle. These are typically the families where folks are working, sometimes working more than one job.”
For the most part, the sliding-scale subsidies are only for people who have to purchase their own policies.
But they’re available for incomes up to four times the poverty level. That’s about $46,000 a year for an individual. For a family of four, it’s about $94,000.
Again, Congressman Gallego:
“For me it’s important because Texans’ tax dollars will come back to Texas and flow into the private market and that helps families and that helps our economy. And regardless of where you are on the Affordable Care Act, the law is the law and the opportunity to make sure that Texas tax dollars come back to Texas is pretty important.”
One irony of the situation is that very poor Texans, who earn less than $16,000 a year, would not get any help from the sliding-scale subsidies.
That’s because those Texans were supposed to get enrolled in Medicaid under the law.
But the Supreme Court later made that part optional for the states, and Governor Rick Perry says he’s not interested in expanding Medicaid.