Some healthcare reform advocates worry that a problem with the Affordable Care Act could leave some families unable to afford government-mandated health insurance, because a major prevision in the law could be construed to require businesses to offer affordable insurance coverage only to individuals. Furthermore, fixing this provision could cost taxpayers $50 billion a year.
“At issue is a so-called ‘firewall’ in the law that denies subsidies to workers whose employers offer quality, affordable coverage. The firewall applies to plans with premiums that cost less than 9.5 percent of a worker’s income. If a worker has to dole out more than that amount to buy coverage, the employer coverage is considered unaffordable and the worker is eligible for subsidies to buy coverage on the new exchanges,” The Hill reported.
“Initially, advocates thought that the threshold also applied to family coverage… But in calculating the bill’s cost last year, Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) took the law to mean that employers and their families aren’t eligible for subsidies as long as the individual plan is affordable — regardless of the price of the family plan,” the article read.
The article also cited a study by the Employment Policies Institute, which “estimates that changing the policy could cost taxpayers $50 billion a year.”
However, the study found that not solving the problem could leave “millions of families… stuck in a no-man’s-land without affordable coverage through their employer or the exchange.”