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Report says thousands of Louisianans could qualify for insurance subsidies

A new report estimates that nearly 353,000 Louisianans will be eligible for federal subsidies to offset the cost of a health insurance premium, making coverage affordable for lower-income families when the new health care law takes effect next year. But the head of the Louisiana Consumer Healthcare Coalition finds that many residents don’t understand how these "premium tax credits" work. Moriba Karamoko said even the word “tax” in the name has a very chilling effect.

“But, I find if you give people some basic understanding of what the credits are for, and roughly what they look like – the amounts of money – you find people very enthusiastic about them," Karamoko said.

The report by Families USA estimates in Caddo Parish alone more than 19,000 people will be eligible for premium tax credits. Families USA is an advocacy group that supports the Affordable Care Act. Under the law, the federal government will set up an online insurance exchange in Louisiana. The enrollment period is set to open October 1.

Executive director Ron Pollack said the premium tax credits will be a safety net for some residents if the state decides not to adopt the Medicaid expansion. But he remains confident that Governor Bobby Jindal will come around, based on numbers alone.

“In the case of Louisiana, it means $1.1 billion of federal money in 2016 without the state paying anything for that expansion," Pollack said during a Tuesday conference call with reporters.

Pollack called the tax credit subsidies a "game changer," making health coverage affordable for huge numbers of working families who, up to this point, were priced out of private insurance.