Tags: Barack Obama | Healthcare Reform | obamacare | gap | medicaid | subsidies | healthcare

NYT: Millions Face Longer Work Hours to Avoid Obamacare 'Gap'

Monday, 02 February 2015 08:32 AM

Millions of Americans who are caught up in a Medicaid loophole are facing the prospect of working two jobs or extra hours so they can be added to the Obamacare rolls, according to The New York Times.

Due to a wrinkle in the Affordable Care Act, they earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid, the healthcare program for the poor, and too little money to get federal aid for buying private insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

The Times says that these low-income, working-class adults are trapped in what is known as the "coverage gap," which means they don’t qualify for federal subsidies or Medicaid because they live in states that have refused to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.

By working a second job or additional hours, they hope to increase their annual incomes enough to become eligible for the subsidies, whereby they can receive marketplace healthcare insurance plans.

Nearly 4 million people in more than 20 states fall into the "gap," with Texas having the largest number at 1 million, says the newspaper.

Healthcare insurance counselors are now helping these Americans calculate how much extra income they need to qualify for Obamacare financial aid program.

"If they are self-employed and clean houses, we calculate how much do you get per house?" said Elizabeth Colvin, who runs an enrollment program through Foundation Communities, a nonprofit group in New York. "Could you do one extra house a month?"

"Sometimes they’re like, 'I’m doing all I can. I can’t do any more,'" she said. "But then sometimes they’re like, 'Yes, I’m actually looking for a part-time job right now.'"

Colvin said it was especially difficult for low-wage workers to bring their incomes up to a level at which they can get Obamacare subsidies if they have several children, because the poverty level is higher for larger families. It is $27,910 for a family of five, for example.

"To get above 100 percent may be just way out of their reach," she said.

Obamacare was written with the understanding that all states would expand Medicaid to cover most people subsisting on low incomes, while adults who make less than the federal poverty level were not eligible for subsidies.

But a 2012 Supreme Court ruling allowed states to opt out of expanding Medicaid, and 22 states, mostly Republican-controlled, did just that, including the Lone Star State, according to the Times.

Texas, which has very strict Medicaid eligibility rules, prevents most adults from getting coverage unless their income is only 19 percent of the poverty level or below, and only if they have dependent children. For a single parent with two children, that income figure is just $3,760 a year.

The Times reported that 54 percent of people in the coverage gap are currently working full or part time, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, and mostly in retail or restaurant jobs.

Half of them are Hispanic or black, while 86 percent live in the South, the Times said.

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Millions of Americans who are caught up in a Medicaid loophole are facing the prospect of working two jobs or extra hours so they can be added to the Obamacare rolls, according to The New York Times.
obamacare, gap, medicaid, subsidies, healthcare, texas, south
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2015-32-02
Monday, 02 February 2015 08:32 AM
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