TULSA - Nearly 9 percent of Oklahomans will get federal subsidies to help pay for private health insurance under the Affordable Care Act -- "Obamacare" -- starting Jan. 1, according to an advocacy group's study released Wednesday.
"Health reform will provide significant help to nearly 337,000 Oklahomans who will become eligible for premium tax credits in 2014," the Families USA report concludes. "This assistance, along with several important new consumer protections, will allow individuals and families to purchase affordable health coverage even if they have pre-existing conditions, and even if they change jobs or experience a drop in income."
That number would represent more than half of the uninsured Oklahomans in 2010, but if Attorney General Scott Pruitt's lawsuit challenging IRS rules to implement the Affordable Care Act is successful, none of the subsidies would be paid. The suit would also block federal taxes on large employers that would be triggered by the subsidies would being imposed in the state.
The report shows that the large majority of those who would be eligible for the subsidies -- 89.6 percent -- are employed at least part time.
Under the Affordable Care Act, people who do not receive qualifying health insurance from their employer and who meet income guidelines can purchase insurance through a health insurance exchange and received immediate federal subsidies -- technically, advance refundable tax credits -- to cover much of the costs.
In Oklahoma, anyone who earns between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level will be eligible for a subsidy, which is scaled according to income and insurance costs.
The current federal poverty level for a family of four is $23,050. The 400 percent figure for that level is $92,200.
Families USA is a national nonprofit, non-partisan organization. Its website says it is "dedicated to the achievement of high-quality, affordable health care for all Americans." Policies backed by the group generally match those advocated by the Obama administration.
Read more in Thursday's Tulsa World. ___