GoHealth, an online health insurance broker, said Wednesday it will develop a service for tax preparer H&R Block to enable consumers to purchase health insurance while getting their income taxes done.
Most Americans will be required to obtain coverage as of Jan. 1, 2014, or else they'll have to pay a tax penalty. They will have to report on their federal income tax return whether they have obtained coverage. In addition, they will be eligible for a sliding-scale tax rebate payable directly to their insurer if they have a household income up to 400% of the federal poverty level and buy coverage through their state insurance exchange.
The GoHealth platform will be available through H&R Block both online and over the phone nationwide beginning Oct. 1, said Michael Mahoney, senior vice president of consumer marketing for Chicago-based GoHealth.
Even though H&R Block's busy season is typically January through April 15 of a given year, Mahoney said because of the way the premium tax credits are calculated, many consumers will seek the help of tax professionals earlier than usual. That's because the subsidies established by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to help people buy health coverage through the state insurance exchanges are based on households' expected income for 2014, household size and other factors. If people underestimate their 2014 income and qualify for a premium subsidy based on the underestimate, they may have to pay the subsidy back to the IRS.