Why Affordable Health Care Is Important
Health Care Must Be Affordable to All
Both the House and the Senate bills have affordability problems for people who don’t get coverage through work.
Low- and moderate-income families can’t afford the Senate bill: For example, a family of 3 that earns $41,000 a year will pay an average of $7,000 a year for health care, or 17% of their income, under the Senate bill, an average obligation that is $2,134 more than under the House bill. And that family could pay a maximum of $9,000 a year on health care, $2,175 more than under the House bill.
Middle-income families can’t afford the House bill: For example, a family of 3 that earns $70,500 a year will pay an average of $12,166 a year, or 17% of their income, under the House bill, an average obligation that is $1,339 more than under the Senate bill. They could pay a maximum of $18,250 a year, $3,419 more than under the Senate bill.
Low and middle income families must be able to afford health insurance if they do not get it through work, and employers must be asked to provide good health coverage for their employees so health care is affordable at work.
The final bill should ask employers to pitch in and share responsibility for full and part-time workers, and should make health care affordable for all incomes. And the final bill should eliminate the tax on health benefits, which President Obama campaigned against. Instead, the wealthiest in society who can afford to help should pitch in their fair share to pay for reform.
Health Care Must Be Affordable at Work
There are big problems with the Senate bill for workers:
- There is no requirement that employers provide coverage.
- There are no minimum benefit standards for employers that do provide coverage, meaning coverage could be expensive and have few benefits but still count as coverage.
- Because employers pay a fine for full-time workers receiving subsidies, but not for part-time workers, it encourages reducing hours and reclassifying full-time workers as part-time.
- Employers can avoid fines by offering barebones, high-deductible plans and charging their workers up to 10% of their wages for this lousy coverage.
The House uses a different approach, requiring all but the smallest employers to either provide good insurance to their employees or pay 8% of payroll. Why is the House approach better?
- All but the smallest businesses contribute for all of their workers, including part-time employees.
- 11 million more Americans will get coverage at work compared to the Senate bill.
- There is a standard for good benefits.
The House approach is the most equitable way to achieve true shared responsibility.
Health Care Must Be Fairly Financed
The Senate bill pays for reform by taxing middle class health benefits.
The Senate benefits tax is not a “Cadillac” tax. It would adversely impact tens of millions of middle-class families and one-third of all insurance plans, resulting in benefit cuts, increased premiums and out-of-pocket costs, and lower wages.
There is another way. In the House, they pay for reform with a surtax on the richest families in the country. In this way, those that can most afford it in society pay their fair share for reform
Why holding insurance companies accountable is important
The Senate bill falls far short of holding insurance companies accountable, reigning in their costs, and preventing them from denying care.
- With no choice of a public option, premiums will be higher and insurers won’t have to compete with a plan that puts our health ahead of profits.
- The Senate bill allows annual benefit caps — increasing the risk of medical bankruptcy.
- The Senate bill puts states in charge of setting up and running the new Exchanges. This will be costly for the states and result in weak consumer protections in states in which there is political opposition from governors to reform.
Insurance companies must be held accountable with strong regulations and consumer protections, and we must be given the choice of a national public health insurance option available on day one. The House bill gives us that choice.
Without accountability, the Senate bill will not protect us from the insurance company abuses that have plagued this country.
The final bill needs tough regulations and real choices, to give the American people what they want and need.