People that want to take advantage of tax credits for healthcare coverage have less than four days before open enrollment ends. The enrollment period for healthcare under the Affordable Care Act started on Nov. 1 and runs through Dec. 15. According to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, nearly 3.9 million Americans and more than 63,000 Oklahomans have already selected a marketplace healthcare plan during open enrollment.


Applicants can use the website healthcare.gov to complete the application and select coverage, but some residents without internet access or needing assistance completing the application can utilize marketplace navigators to complete the process.


Lance Kitchens is a marketplace navigator for Legal Aid Services of Oklahoma and says many individuals may have no monthly premium after tax credits are applied. “Depending on where your income is in your household, it can make the premium zero dollars,” Kitchens said, adding that average premiums for those who sought tax credits last year were under $30.


“To get the premium tax credits, you have to be between 400% and 100% of the federal poverty line,” Kitchens said. According to healthcare.gov, the federal poverty line for an individual is $12,460. The line for a family of four is $25,750. “The less you make, the more tax credits you’re eligible for,” he said.


Tax credits are immediately available once an application has been approved and a healthcare plan selected. “The ACA allows you to use tax credits currently, rather than having to wait until you file your taxes...and it goes towards your monthly premium,” Kitchens said.


Kitchens said the process can take anywhere from 20 minutes to about an hour, depending on whether an application has been submitted in previous years.


Carter County residents using the marketplace can select coverage from two insurers, including BlueCross BlueShield of Oklahoma. Kitchens said navigators can help explain coverage, but are mostly available to help people complete the application for financial aid. “There’s no medical questions on the application, and there’s no question about your doctors or prescriptions,” he said.


He added that information about other members of the household would also be needed to apply for the tax credits, regardless if they have health insurance coverage through Medicare, Medicaid, or an employer. Information needed includes age, social security number, birth date, and income information. Tribal members will also need to provide their CDIB card.


“The marketplace gives you a considerable amount of time, like over three months, to gather documents and submit them,” Kitchens said. “And they’ll let you have coverage in the meantime.”


After Dec. 15, anyone wanting to enroll through the health insurance marketplace and use tax credits must be eligible for a special enrollment period. Kitchens said life events like marriage, having a baby, or changing jobs can qualify a person for special enrollment periods.