Nearly 482,000 South Carolina citizens will be eligible for health care premium tax credits in 2014. That’s one of the key findings in a report released Wednesday by Families USA, a nonprofit, nonpartisan group that labels itself as the national organization for health care consumers.
The South Carolina findings are included in the organization’s national report. It says 241,000 uninsured South Carolinians will be eligible for the tax credits which will take affect at a helpful time for the consumer. The report says that the tax credits will help another 241,000 South Carolinians who are currently insured but are struggling to maintain coverage.
Families USA Executive Director Ron Pollack says with more people obtaining health coverage, rapid rises in premium costs will be curtailed because fewer people will use emergency rooms. He says the expensive costs associated with emergency care of the uninsured are eventually passed on to consumers, which results in higher premiums. The report states that that majority of South Carolinians that will be eligible for the tax cuts, approximately 429,000, will be in families with at least one worker employed full-time.
Critics of the new health care law says it will hurt small businesses already struggling to insure its employees. Pollack disagrees, saying features of the legislation that help small businesses are already in effect.
The report notes that the new tax credit targets middle class families with annual incomes between $29,000 and $88,000. Pollack says insurance companies are upset over some stipulations in the new law, including the proviso that 80 to 85 percent of each premium dollar must be devoted to care or improving quality.
The report says that because the size of the tax credit is determined on a sliding income scale, 54 percent of the dollars from the tax cut will help families with incomes below 200 percent of the poverty level for a family of four, or $44,100. Pollack says with more people who can afford coverage, health insurance will have more customers. However ,the health care reform law places more stringent controls on premium increases.