By Holly Glen Gearhart, Contributing Writer
As the Affordable Care Act nears roll-out in the next two months, the answers to questions about tax credits given for paying your own health care premium are not yet clear.
One question has to do with the end of the previous income tax credit, available to individuals, families and employers who pay health insurance premiums. Will that credit still be available, even if one doesn’t qualify for assistance?
To address questions like these and others to do with enrollment, the Washington Health Exchange will offer community-wide, as well as one-on-one, meetings presented by Certified Application Counselors. Trained counselors are available to help people enroll in qualified health plans and Washington Apple Health (Medicaid) programs. The CACs are employed by an organization that is part of the exchange and is responsible for the oversight and coordination of individuals with this designation.
The CAC counselors are supposed to give consumers correct and timely information.
The Exchange also has in-person assisters, whose goal is to meet with people to help them choose a level of care and how best to spend their dollars for that care, as well as help that person find out if he or she might qualify for no-fee programs that will be available in 2014.
The IPAs and CACs are trained to help the consumer enroll in the program and tailor this support by assisting in as many as 175 languages, as well as TTY for the hard of hearing community.
Look for announcements of ACA meetings thorough local community centers, and don’t forget to check your newspaper for announcements of upcoming presentations. You may also contact the Customer Support Center, available weekdays from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. by calling their toll-free number, 1-855-WAFINDER (1-855-923-4633) to ask about meetings.
A commonly asked question about income tax and paying for your health care premium is, “If my employer doesn’t pay my family’s health-insurance premiums, can I deduct the premiums?”
For 2013, according to the H&R Block Tax FAQ website, “If you pay the premiums with after-tax dollars, you can deduct the premiums on Schedule A as a medical expense. Your medical expenses must be more than 7.5 percent of your adjusted gross income (AGI) to deduct them on Schedule A. Since health-insurance premiums paid with pre-tax money isn’t part of your gross income, you can’t deduct the premiums.”
That soon will change.
According to the IRS website, “The legislation that authorized the Health Coverage Tax Credit (HCTC) expires on January 1, 2014; and the tax credit will no longer be available.” After Jan. 1, 2014 a new metric will go into effect to find your personal or small business credit and/or deduction.