Another day, another glitch in the Affordable Care Act. This one threatens to leave up to 500,000 children without coverage and could cost some families thousands of dollars.
From USA Today:
Congress defined ‘affordable’ as 9.5% or less of an employee's household income, mostly to make sure people did not leave their workplace plans for subsidized coverage through the exchanges. But the ‘error’ was that it only applies to the employee — and not his or her family. So, if an employer offers a woman affordable insurance, but doesn't provide it for her family, they cannot get subsidized help through the state health exchanges.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, that can make a load of difference in the premium for workers with families. An average plan for an individual is about $5,600, but that amount more triples —to $15,700 — when a family is factored in. Most employers help out with those costs, but not all do.
The issue might never have received the attention it is now getting had it not been for a semi-critical speech on Obamacare delivered by former president Bill Clinton.
Which is not to say that the problem has done unnoticed. Kosali Simon, a professor of public affairs at Indiana University who specializes in health economics, told USA Today:
We saw this 2½ years ago and thought, 'Has anyone else noticed this?' "Everyone said, 'No, no. You must be wrong.' But we weren't, and that's going to leave a lot of people out.
Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families, concurs:
The family glitch is definitely a drafting error that Congress made that needs to be fixed. But that seems unlikely.
Other challenges for families remain as the Obama administration gears up for the Oct. 1 launch of the health care exchanges. For example, in cases, children qualify for coverage even when their parents don’t. Because the adults are excluded, however, they are frequently unaware that their children are covered. As a result, only a small fraction of the 70% of uninsured children who are eligible for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) under the law are enrolled.
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