By 2014, the new health care reform law will mean thousands of dollars in health insurance premium savings and out-of-pocket health care costs for working families and small businesses, according to a new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
“For too long, skyrocketing health care costs have made it hard for businesses to provide coverage for employees and have made it difficult for families to afford coverage,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement. “The report shows that the health care law will bring major savings for families as it begins to take shape. Without the Affordable Care Act, consumers and businesses would face higher premiums, fewer insurance choices, and rapidly rising health care costs.”
From 1999 to 2009, premiums more than doubled, rising by more than $7,500 for the average family that gets insurance through an employer. The high cost of health care made it difficult for many small businesses to offer insurance to their workers. The percentage of small employers offering health insurance dropped from 65 percent to 59 percent between 1999 and 2009.
The report finds that, compared to what they would have paid without the law:
* Middle-class families purchasing private insurance in the new State-based Health Insurance Exchanges could save as much as $2,300 per year in 2014.
* Tax credits provided by the Affordable Care Act will lead to even greater savings. For example, in 2014, a family of four with an income of $33,525 could save as much as $14,900 per year since they also will qualify for tax credits and reduced cost sharing.
* In 2014, small businesses, on average, could save up to $350 per family policy and many may be eligible for tax credits of up to 50 percent of their premiums.
* The tax credits are already available to small businesses and cover 35 percent of their premiums. For example, a firm with 10 workers who earn an average of $20,000 annually could currently receive credits of $35,000 annually. These tax credits could save small businesses $6 billion in 2010 and 2011.
* All businesses will likely see lower premiums of $2,000 per family by 2019, which could generate millions of dollars in savings.
Congressional and state Republican lawmakers have vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Earlier this month, the new House majority passed a repeal bill and several states attorneys general have filed suits against the new health care reform law. If those attempts are successful, Sebelius says, families and small business owners will be hard hit in the pocketbook by higher premiums and other health care costs.
“We can’t afford to go back to the days when uncontrollably rising costs put a bigger and bigger burden on family budgets and business balance sheets,” according to a spokesperson for the AFO-CIO.
© 2011, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.