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Credits to be offered for health plans

By the end of the year, we'll notice sweeping changes under President Obama's Affordable Care Act.  There's a lot of behind-the-scenes work happening right now ahead of open enrollment for every state's plan including New York.  New York must have its health exchange program up and running by October when open enrollment begins. Then, it takes effect in January 2014.

There will likely be two exchanges -- one for people who are uninsured, or an employee, whose boss doesn't offer health insurance.  Another will be available for small businesses with fewer than 50 full-time employees.

But, there also will be credits offered to make healthcare more affordable. Around 50,000 Capital District residents will be eligible according to Families USA.

"People falling between 138 percent and 400 percent of poverty on a sliding scale get benefits by which to purchase that insurance," said Rep. Paul Tonko (D-Amsterdam)

Tonko says subsidizing health care for the lowest earners will end up keeping more money in your pocket.  Tonko said, "we are paying for that today -- through uncompensated care.  That happens through taxes, through the government run programs or through a surcharge on to premiums."

A family of four with combined earnings at $90,000 would be eligible for these credits.  In Albany County, it's over 17,000.  They're mostly uninsured.  Those who pay almost ten percent of wages to their employers plan and those whose employer pays less than sixty percent of costs are also included.

"We're doing a lot to increase access to care hopefully we're going to be doing something about affordability to care," said Robert Hinckley, CDPHP.

The tax credit money would go straight to the health plan an individual selects trough the exchange.  New York State should have its plan in the next few months.  It will learn from the successes and possible pitfalls of the one to debut in 2014.

"We need to be flexible we need to learn from what's not working and quickly change that so the exchange continues to go forward and works," Hinckley said.

New York has had to boost its infrastructure in order to meet the requirements of the Affordable Care Act.  It will have to invest in new technology and train staff to use it because you'll be examining the exchanges and selecting one online.
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