360° Coverage : How 19 Million Uninsured Tax Filers Could Get ACA Coverage

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How 19 Million Uninsured Tax Filers Could Get ACA Coverage

Feb 20 2014, 3:42pm CST | by

Back in November, I suggested that tax prep firms might be a useful portal for low-income people to get insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act. The idea: Since many key ACA-related...

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23 weeks ago

How 19 Million Uninsured Tax Filers Could Get ACA Coverage

Feb 20 2014, 3:42pm CST | by

Back in November, I suggested that tax prep firms might be a useful portal for low-income people to get insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act. The idea: Since many key ACA-related issues are income-based, commercial tax prep is an easy way for folks to learn whether they are eligible for expanded Medicaid coverage, how much of a premium subsidy they can get, and how much of a penalty they’d owe for not getting coverage.

Now, a new report by my Urban Institute colleagues Stan Dorn, Matthew Buettgens, and Jay Dev shows just how many of the uninsured could benefit from linking tax prep to the ACA. They figure that at least 18.9 million federal tax filers have no insurance and are eligible for either Medicaid or ACA premium subsidies.  That’s almost three out of every four of the uninsured who could benefit from the ACA.

At the same time, nearly 60 percent of those making $50,000 or less reported getting some third-party help with their tax returns in 2008. Nearly 65 percent of filers claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit use paid preparers (if you saw the EITC instructions, you’d know why).

The Urban study actually underestimates the number of filers since it counts only those legally required to fill out 1040s or those eligible for the EITC. However, many other workers also file—mostly to get refunds because they have had too much tax withheld from their paychecks.

There are other benefits to tying ACA insurance to tax prep. The vast majority of low-income people receive refunds and many get refundable credits. That cash in their pocket may make them more likely to buy coverage.

And, of course, tax preparers are professional form-fillers. They already collect most of the information consumers need to apply for coverage, making it even easier for their customers. Their role will be even more important starting in 2015 when federal funding for application assistance comes to an end.

Some tax prep firms have already figured out the potential of this market. The store-front firm Jackson Hewitt is probably the most enthusiastic about the model.  Its staffers will complete and even mail the Medicaid paperwork for clients who are eligible for expanded coverage.  They are not licensed brokers so can’t sell insurance directly, but the firm has created a partnership with the commercial online insurance marketplace Getinsured which will help Jackson Hewitt customers buy coverage.

For no extra fee, Jackson Hewitt will figure your subsidy (and your penalty) when it prepares your taxes. And, if you want, it will send that information directly to Getinsured, where you can buy a policy.

Jackson Hewitt isn’t alone: H&R Block is partnering with the commercial online health exchange GoHealth to help people enroll through Block-branded online chat and phone support. In a pilot program, Block also will have insurance agents located in some Arizona tax offices. Intuit has created a product called TurboTax Health and has a partnership with the commercial online marketplace eHealth Inc.

The data Stan and his colleagues have published suggest it might make sense to revise the 2015 ACA open enrollment season so it overlaps with the April 15 tax filing deadline. Currently, ACA enrollment is scheduled to run from Nov. 15, 2014 to Jan. 15, 2015. A brief extension could even help this year since 20 percent of EITC returns are filed after March 31, the end of the 2014 open season. Among all returns, about 40 percent are filed after March 31.

As any good behaviorist will tell you, salience matters. And when you see how much of a subsidy you can get if you buy insurance, and how much of a penalty you’ll owe if you don’t, it tends to focus the mind. And, in this case, it has the potential to grab the attention of millions of people.

Source: Forbes Business

 
Update
10

7 weeks ago

RM47mil KWSG contributions still unclaimed

Jun 9 2014 7:54am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: About RM47 million of contributions in the Teachers Provident Fund (KWSG) still remain unclaimed, the Dewan Rakyat wa ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
9

7 weeks ago

Gold shop lost almost RM1mil

Jun 9 2014 3:50am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KANGAR: A gold shop owner lost almost RM1 million after after the safe on in his shop was broken into by ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
8

7 weeks ago

Motion to debate MAS losses in Dewan Rakyat rejected

Jun 9 2014 3:39am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: AN emergency motion to debate the losses incurred by Malaysia Airlines last year, amounting to RM1.2 billion was rejected by the ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
7

7 weeks ago

MH370 Tragedy: Hisham: RM27.6 mil spent on 1st phase of SAR

Jun 9 2014 2:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia spent some RM27.6 million in its first phase of the search operations for missing Malaysia Airline flight MH370, said Acting Transport Minis ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
6

7 weeks ago

9.1m litres of diesel seized in a month

Jun 8 2014 1:11am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA: The Domestic Trade, Cooperatives, and Consumerism ministry has seized some 9.1 million litres of diesel and property worth RM58 million since mounting ‘Operasi Diesel Selatan’ in the southern states las ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
5

8 weeks ago

Girl, 9, awarded RM2.78m compensation for medical negligence

Jun 6 2014 4:56am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: A nine-year-old girl who suffered brain damage during her birth at a government hospital was awarded over RM2.78 million i ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
4

8 weeks ago

Malaysia's total trade in April up 12pc

Jun 5 2014 11:52pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's total trade in April 2014 rose by 12 per cent from a year ago to RM123.86 billion due to growing trading activities, International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
3

8 weeks ago

Works Ministry to spend RM20m for upgrading works at 50 accident black spots

Jun 4 2014 11:35pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

JOHOR BARU: The Works Ministry will implement upgrading works at 50 accident prone locations in the country that have been identified this year involving a ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
2

8 weeks ago

Najib launches loan scheme for Ramadan traders

Jun 4 2014 10:24pm CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today launches RM45 million Ramadan Bazaar ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 
Update
1

8 weeks ago

Residents bring up objection against Kidex to Suhakam

Jun 4 2014 4:49am CDT | Source: Business Times Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: A group of 20 Petaling Jaya residents held a meeting with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) over their objection against the proposed RM2.2 billion Kinrara Damansara Skyway ...
Source: Business Times Malaysia   Full article at: Business Times Malaysia
 

 

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