Tax Preparers Could Help Most Uninsured Get Covered

Report Eyes Tax Time as Key to Boosting ACA Enrollment

More than 74 percent of the uninsured who qualify for Medicaid or health insurance marketplace subsidies—18.9 million people—file federal income tax returns, creating an opportunity to boost enrollment in these coverage programs. Authors of a new issue brief note that most uninsured people who file tax returns do so through professional tax preparers, who could help enroll them in coverage.

Even more important, the issue brief notes that 90 percent of young adults who qualify for marketplace subsidies file tax returns. This is a highly targeted population, because their enrollment in the marketplaces will help keep plan prices affordable. 

The Urban Institute authors conclude that federal and state officials, as well as private sector leaders, should engage for-profit and nonprofit tax preparers as partners in reaching the uninsured during the final six weeks of open enrollment.

“As people file their income taxes, tax preparers may be able to help enroll those who are eligible for marketplace plans,” said Kathy Hempstead, who leads coverage issues at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “Since the majority of eligible filers use a tax preparer and file before March 31, this could be an effective route to boost enrollment.”

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