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80 percent of uninsured fail to take advantage of health insurance subsidies

Healthcare.gov uses social media to encourage people to sign up for health insurance. The caption for this photo reads, “Average cost to treat a sprain/strain? $2,279.Don’t rely on luck alone to protect you if you get hurt. Enroll by March 31."
Healthcare.gov uses social media to encourage people to sign up for health insurance. The caption for this photo reads, “Average cost to treat a sprain/strain? $2,279.Don’t rely on luck alone to protect you if you get hurt. Enroll by March 31."Healthcare.gov/Facebook

As of March 1, four out of five uninsured Americans who are eligible for premium tax credits have not enrolled in an exchange plan, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) report released today, March 27. This report follows a KFF March survey that found 40 percent of uninsured Americans were unaware of the availability of financial help with premium payments for those with low and moderate incomes.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) provides tax credits that may be applied against premium costs for households with incomes up to 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level — $45,960 annual income for singles, $94,200 for a family of four. KFF’s analysis of federal enrollment data through March 1 reveals that 3.5 million Americans have qualified for, and used, a per-person average tax credit of $2,890.

As of March 17, 5 million people have enrolled in a health plan through the health insurance exchanges, approximately 2 million less than the Congressional Budget Office projected enrollment levels for the first enrollment period. Authors of the KFF study estimate that if all states had enrollment rates equal to the five states— Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut, California and Washington — that have had most success with enrollments, an additional 3.1 million would qualify for the premium tax credits.

Open enrollment closes Monday, March 31. The administration announced on March 25 that anyone who has begun the process of enrolling at the Healthcare.gov website prior to the deadline would be allowed to complete the enrollment process into April.

The enrollment period for 2015 opens Nov. 15. Special enrollment periods are allowed for those who experience a life change such as loss of a job, a marriage or divorce or the birth of a child. Individuals eligible for Medicaid or CHIP may enroll at any time throughout the year.