The Ides of April
On April 15, you may find yourself in an irritable mood that resonates with the sardonic proverb, commonly attributed to Benjamin Franklin:
“..but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
Today, we have decided to flip that script. No, we aren’t here to tell you that the IRS is giving you a break from filing your taxes this year. Nor do we have any updates on the search for the fountain of youth. Instead, we want to focus on the impact of this nation’s most successful anti-poverty program, as well as this nation’s newly implemented expansion of health coverage, which has insured an additional millions of Americans—and both of which have April 15 deadlines.
Today, millions of households (many of whom have elected to wait until the last minute) will fulfill their civic requirement of filing a tax return. Many of them will be eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The Earned Income Tax Credit has changed the lives of families that live on the cusp of achieving economic security. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the EITC and Child Tax Credit kept more than 10.1 million people above the poverty line. Maps recently published by Brookings show the impact of the EITC by county – we highly encourage you to take a look.
Affordable Care Act
Did you know that today also is the official deadline for the majority of Americans to secure health insurance without having to pay a tax penalty?
If you were “in line” before March 31, 2014, as we noted in a previous post, you will be able to secure coverage without getting penalized in 2015. If you were confused about your options or stymied by the website, we strongly encourage you to finish your application on www.healthcare.gov, or call the Federal Health Insurance Marketplace (1-800-318-2596) to claim this opportunity to protect yourself and the health and well-being of your family. Despite its flaws, the overarching goal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is to extend affordable health insurance coverage to uninsured adults and children, who otherwise could not afford it. The benefits of the legislation to families and individuals are numerous:
- Pre-existing conditions are gone
- Young adult coverage is extended to age 26 for coverage on a parent’s plan
- Financial assistance is available to many in the form of tax credit and cost-sharing reductions
- Arbitrary denials of coverage when you become sick have been eliminated
- No more annual or lifetime limits on healthcare
- Medicaid expansion for those with limited means
While we won’t know the true impact of the ACA until years down the road, there is no denying that some of the benefits are having an immediate impact on both access and quality of coverage. For the law’s advocates, the first and perhaps most impactful measure is lowering the number of unnecessary deaths for individuals who are uninsured.
According to Families USA, uninsured adults are at least 25 percent more likely to die prematurely than adults who have insurance. According to the Institute of Medicine, 26,100 individuals between the ages of 25 and 64 died prematurely in 2010 because they did not have health insurance.
On a day otherwise reserved for grim humor about death and taxes, let’s celebrate the impact of programs that aspire to improve the quality of life for us all.