- The Washington Times - Monday, February 24, 2014

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Consumer Reports said Monday they’ve teamed up to create a website that helps people find out if they qualify for financial assistance when they choose a health plan on one of Obamacare’s web-based markets.

The website, www.HealthTaxCreditTool.org, is based on research that shows two-thirds of uninsured adults eligible for government subsidies on the new health exchanges don’t know about them, and more than 80 percent of people in the same survey said they would likely obtain insurance if they had financial help.

The partnership also launched a Spanish-language version, www.CreditoFiscaldeSalud.org, noting less than one-third of surveyed Hispanics knew about financial assistance through Obamacare.

“A large number of people don’t know what’s available in terms of financial help, or mistakenly think they earn too much to qualify,” said John Lumpkin, senior vice president at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “We want everyone who is eligible for help to know about it and act on it — and this new tool helps. For many, this credit means the difference between having access to needed health care or going without.”

The new health care law provides the subsidies to people making between 100 and 400 percent of the federal poverty level, or families of four earning up to $94,200 per year on the top end.

Various organizations and companies have launched web systems that let consumers browse health plans or calculate their subsidies. 

The tools offer a partial end-run around HealthCare.gov, the federal government website that experienced glitches after launch in October but is now working much better. Critics of the system’s launch said the government should have let users browse plans and pricing before registering for enrollment.

The federal system is needed, however, to send enrollees’ data through a network, or hub, of agencies to verify a person’s identify and eligibility for assistance.

On HealthTaxCreditTool.org, consumers can anonymously answer questions about their family make-up, health care status, state of residence and earnings to calculate their subsidy.