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8 In 10 Oklahomans Qualify For Health Care Subsidies

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OKLAHOMA CITY -

More than 225,000 Oklahomans could get financial help paying for their health insurance but aren't.

That's the word from the federal government as the deadline to sign up for the Affordable Care Act for coverage to start January 1 is nearing.

Last year, only half that number --131,000 Oklahomans -- signed up for insurance at all through the Affordable Care Act.

When Janet Broyles, who recently retired from her job at a church, first started checking on health insurance for next year, she learned her premium had doubled to $1,200 a month. That’s more then she brings home.

“I just wasn’t going to be able to have insurance,” she said.

As a cancer survivor, that seemed like a really bad idea, but when she went to insurance agent, Brett Casey, he found she was eligible for government subsidies that brought her premium down to $110 dollars a month.

“I said, 'yes,' just right away,” said Janet. “I was like, ‘Oh my. We just had a miracle happen right here.'”

“She just wasn’t aware, I don’t think,” said Casey, an insurance agent with HealthMarkets. “A lot of people when they get a bill just assume that’s what it’s going to cost.”

According to the federal government, 226,600 Oklahomans may be eligible for federal subsidies but don't know it.

The biggest majority of those - about 188,000 are uninsured, 33,000 don't buy insurance on the marketplace and 5600 weren't eligible for tax credits last year but may be this year because of the increase in rates.

According to the government, about 8 in 10 Oklahomans are like Janet and qualify for help.

“If you’re eligible for subsidies it’s just insane not to take advantage of it,” said Casey.

The minimum income to qualify for a government subsidy is $48,000 per year for an individual or $97,000 for a family of four.  

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