Americans have already qualified for about $10 billion in tax credits to help them purchase private health insurance this year through the Affordable Care Act, according to a study from the Kaiser Family Foundation. (KHN is an editorially independent program of the foundation.)
But four of five Americans who could qualify for a subsidy hadn’t applied for coverage by that date. And sign-up rates varied greatly by state. More than half of the subsidy money allotted so far will go to consumers in California, Florida, North Carolina, Texas and New York.
“States that are lagging in enrollment are leaving billions of dollars on the table that their residents qualify for,” said Larry Levitt, one of the study authors. In Hawaii, South Dakota, Iowa, New Mexico, North Dakota, Washington, D.C., and Oklahoma, for example, 10 percent or fewer of those eligible for tax credits signed up.
If all states had been able to enroll people at the rates of the five most successful states (Washington, Connecticut, California, Rhode Island and Vermont), where an average of 39 percent of those eligible signed up, another 3.1 million people would have qualified for an additional $8.6 billion in premium subsidies.
That money could provide a valuable infusion of cash that “not only has a benefit to individuals, but also to state economies as well,” Levitt said.