Just 3.6% of eligible workers, or 8,400 out of 235,000, have enrolled in the Health Coverage Tax Credits program, according to a Commonwealth Fund study. The program, created by the 2002 trade act, pays 65% of health insurance premiums for workers who lose their jobs because of international trade and for some early retirees who lose their pensions because of a company's bankruptcy. Barriers to enrollment include premiums that may be unaffordable even with tax credits; a requirement that enrollees pay one or more months of premiums before the tax credit takes effect; and restrictive eligibility requirements for some state-based health plans in the program, the study said. Enrollment may increase over time, but the barriers most likely will have to be addressed, the researchers concluded. Read the report. Both President Bush and Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) have proposed tax credits as a way to reduce the number of uninsured Americans, estimated at 43.6 million people in 2002. -- by Tony Fong
Few make use of tax-credit program for insurance
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