A new report finds that more than 800,000 Georgians will be eligible for government assistance in 2014 to buy health insurance coverage as part of the newly created Affordable Care Act insurance exchange.
The subsidies, which come in the form of tax credits, would trim the cost of insurance for individuals and families in the new exchanges set to start in January under the Affordable Care Act.
The Georgia report released Wednesday by Families USA, a longtime supporter of the 2010 health care law that describes itself as a national nonprofit, non-partisan organization dedicated to the achievement of high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans, also found that most Georgia residents who are eligible for credits are in working families and have incomes between two and four times the federal poverty level, about $47,100 to $94,200 for a family of four. It also found that more than 88 percent are employed.
Families USA has released reports about 14 other states so far and will release one about each state’s new health care exchanges.
Two-thirds of the eligible Georgians are ages 18 to 54. Slightly more than half are white, 28 percent black, and 13 percent Hispanic, the study found.
The counties with the highest numbers of people eligible are clustered in the populous metro Atlanta area: Fulton, with 77,410; Gwinnett, 71,510; DeKalb, 62,510; and Cobb, 48,940.
Georgia has 1.9 million uninsured citizens, which translates to about one in five residents. That’s one of the highest uninsured populations and rates in the nation, noted Cindy Zeldin of consumer group Georgians for a Healthy Future.
“There’s still a lot of confusion about the upcoming changes,’’ Zeldin said.
She also noted that the credits will “level the playing field’’ in insurance for those who don’t have access to job-based coverage.
The National Federation of Independent Business and other opponents of the Affordable Care Act predict that many individuals will forgo the tax credits and remain uninsured, opting instead to pay the penalty for not having coverage.
The exchanges are one of two main ways designers of the ACA envisioned expansion of insurance coverage; the other way was through states expanding Medicaid programs and Gov. Nathan Deal has vowed not to expand Medicaid.
According to some projections, Medicaid expansion would add more than 650,000 people to Georgia’s insured