More than a year after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, rural interests are still focused on what changes the program could bring after the enrollment period kicks off Oct. 1.
The ACA, or "Obamacare" as it is called by some, will introduce state-operated or federally facilitated health insurance marketplaces and require millions of rural Americans to make health insurance purchasing decisions, says Jon Bailey of the Center For Rural Affairs.
Bailey recently authored a CFRA study on the effects of the ACA, summarizing the new provisions and how they will impact some rural Americans.
According to Bailey, a determining factor for most stakeholders in the discussion is the dollar amount in premiums individuals and families must pay for their choice of coverage.
While differing opinions quickly surface about the broader scope of the ACA, Bailey argues that price breaks could result in acceptance of the program among rural residents.
Those price breaks include tax credit provisions that are dependent upon the income of the purchaser and the type of insurance selected. To receive tax credits, individuals or families must be between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level – that's between $11,000 and $45,000 for an individual and between $23,000 and $94,000 for a family of four in 2013.
Those making more than 400% of the FPL will not qualify for tax credits, but may have new insurance options through the federal marketplace. Similarly, those who are self-employed will also have new options.
The cost-share program could be another benefit to lower-income rural stakeholders, CFRA says. The cost-share kicks in for Americans with incomes below 250% of the FPL, or about $59,000 for a family of four and $29,000 for an individual in 2013.