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Up to 17 million Americans eligible for Obamacare tax credits: report

Barack Obama signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act at the White House
Barack Obama signing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act at the White House

(Reuters) - As many as 17 million low- to moderate-income Americans should be eligible for tax credits to buy private health insurance under President Barack Obama's healthcare law in 2014, according to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The subsidies are a provision of the law that aims to make U.S. health coverage more affordable. Enrollment in the health plans began on October 1, but has been hobbled by technical problems that have halted access to the federal HealthCare.gov website meant to help people in 36 states verify their eligibility for subsidies and sign up.

The three states with the highest number of individuals who will qualify for the subsidies are Texas, where as many as 2 million people qualify; California, where some 1.9 million people qualify; and Florida, where 1.6 million people qualify, the Kaiser report said. It is based on an analysis of 2012 and 2013 population and economic data from U.S. Census Bureau.

The states with the fewest number of residents to qualify are Vermont, with 27,000 individuals, and the District of Columbia, with 9,000.

Overall, the report estimates, about 29 million people are potential customers for the exchange, including people who currently have no insurance and those who buy private insurance. The number excludes people who would be eligible for the Medicaid program for the poor.

The tax credits are only available for people who apply for coverage through state and federal health insurance marketplaces. To qualify, individuals must have incomes of between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level, which translates to a range of $23,550 to $94,200 for a family of four.

Those who qualify will be people who are not eligible for coverage from their employer or from Medicaid or Medicare, government insurance programs for the poor and elderly.

Use of the tax credits may vary by state, depending on how well the health insurance websites perform. Fourteen states are running their own online exchanges, and most have been operating more smoothly than HealthCare.gov.

The full report can be found here: at http://www.kff.org/health-reform/issue-brief/state-by-state-estimates-of-the-number-of-people-eligible-for-premium-tax-credits-under-the-affordable-care-act/

(Reporting by Julie Steenhuysen; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)

(This story was refiled to show the tax credits are available on both state and federal exchanges, not just state exchanges in the sixth paragraph)

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