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Many eligible for Marketplace aid

12/20/2013, 6 a.m.

Six out of 10 uninsured African-Americans may be eligible for Medicaid, CHIP or tax credits in the Health Insurance Marketplace and 95 percent might qualify for lower costs on coverage if all states expanded Medicaid, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says.

A new report released Dec. 9 by HHS says that 4.2 million, or six out of 10, uninsured African-Americans who may be eligible for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace might qualify for Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program or tax credits to help with the cost of premiums.

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said if all states took advantage of new opportunities to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, 95 percent of uninsured African-Americans might qualify for Medicaid, CHIP or tax credits.

“The health care law is working to address longstanding disparities in health care coverage and improve the health of the African-American community,” she said.

The report also details uninsurance rates by state and provides several examples of what premiums might look like for black people living in major metropolitan areas.

One-fifth of uninsured black citizens and permanent residents live the greater Atlanta, New York, Chicago, Dallas, Houston, and Detroit metropolitan areas.

A 27-year-old in Atlanta with an income of $25,000 can pay as little as $105 a month for a bronze plan after applying the tax credit, while a family of four with an income of $50,000 could pay $148 a month for a bronze plan after applying the tax credit.

Nationwide, about 2 million uninsured African-Americans may be eligible for coverage through Medicaid or the CHIP.

States have new opportunities to expand Medicaid coverage to include Americans with family incomes at or below 133 percent of the federal poverty level (generally $31,322 for a family of four in 2013). This expansion includes adults without dependent children living at home, who have not previously been eligible in most states.

An additional 2.2 million eligible uninsured black adults with family incomes below 100 percent of the federal poverty level live in states that are not expanding Medicaid. The number of uninsured African-Americans who may be eligible for access to health coverage at a lower cost would increase from 60 percent to 95 percent if all states adopted the Medicaid expansion.