Testimony: Premium Tax Credits Under The Affordable Care Act: How Will They Help Millions of Uninsured Americans Gain Affordable, Comprehensive Health Insurance

October 27, 2011

Authors: Sara R. Collins, Ph.D.
Contact: Sara Collins, Vice President, Affordable Health Insurance Program, The Commonwealth Fund, src@cmwf.org

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Overview

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for this invitation to testify on the premium tax credits that will be available to families under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act beginning in 2014. Recent trends in the numbers of people in the United States who are uninsured or underinsured demonstrate how critical premium tax credits and the law's related insurance affordability programs and reforms will be to ensure both the health and financial security of working families. In September, the Census Bureau reported that the number of people without health insurance climbed to 49.9 million people in 2010, over 13 million more than were uninsured a decade ago. Among people who do have health insurance, The Commonwealth Fund estimates that in 2010, 29 million working-age adults had such high out-of-pocket costs relative to their income that they were effectively underinsured, an increase from 16 million in 2003.

Both these trends have resulted in serious financial and health consequences for working families. An estimated 75 million adults under age 65, both with and without health insurance, reported a time in 2010 when they did not get needed health care because of the cost, up from 47 million in 2001. And 73 million adults said that they had had difficulty paying medical bills or were paying off medical debt, up from 58 million in 2005. With its array of affordable health insurance programs and new consumer protections set to launch in 2014, the Affordable Care Act will substantially reverse these trends, ensuring that all Americans will have access to affordable and comprehensive health insurance coverage.

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Citation

S. Collins, Premium Tax Credits Under The Affordable Care Act: How Will They Help Millions of Uninsured Americans Gain Affordable, Comprehensive Health Insurance," U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Health Care, October 27, 2011.