The design of the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) health insurance purchase tax credit could hold down the cost of providing the tax credit but sharply limit the number of married couples that will qualify for the credit.
The staff of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee come to that conclusion in a report on the PPACA individual tax credit subsidy system.
The committee held a hearing on the PPACA tax credit earlier today.
If PPACA takes effect on schedule and works as drafters expect, the new tax credit system is supposed to help individuals and families with incomes ranging from 133% to 400% of the federal poverty level buy health coverage.
Individuals could use the tax credit to buy coverage through a new system of health insurance exchanges if they had no access to employer-sponsored insurance, or if they were offered access to employer-sponsored insurance and the out-of-pocket premium for the coverage would amount to more than 9.5% of the employee’s income.
Use of the federal poverty level ratio will reduce married couples’ access to the tax credit to some extent, because the federal poverty level does not increase by the same amount for each additional household member, according to House Oversight staff members.
In proposed regulations, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has suggested that a couple should not be eligible to use the tax credit if at least one of the two spouses was offered employer-sponsored insurance, and the out-of-pocket premium cost for self-only coverage for that spouse would exceed 9.5% of the compensation the employer has paid that spouse.