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Fixing the “Family Glitch” in the New Health Law

by Caroline DeRosa, Senior Director, Policy & Advocacy

This past weekend, the New York Times published an article about a piece of the new health law that could translate into many families not having access to help buying insurance. The article does a great job of highlighting a concern that for months, Children’s Health Fund (CHF) has been speaking about to policymakers in Washington.

As it stands today, Treasury Department guidelines say that if an employer offers their worker individual insurance coverage that is deemed affordable, then even if the worker needs family coverage (side note: family coverage is A LOT more expensive than self-only coverage), the whole family is still deemed as having access to affordable coverage. Therefore, no one in that family can qualify for assistance, even though the family coverage offered by the employer is unaffordable. And the family will still have to purchase the employer coverage, because everyone will be required to have coverage starting in 2014. This interpretation of the law essentially means that millions of kids and families who will be required to have insurance coverage will not be able to afford it.

CHF is concerned that the practical impact of the guidelines will prevent many children and families from obtaining help to get insurance coverage and thus the requirement for everyone to have health insurance will put a heavy financial burden on many low-income families. CHF believes the Treasury’s current interpretation of the law to be faulty and is strongly advocating for the rule to be revised. CHF, along with other child advocates, have appealed to both Congressand the President to act on this issue.

Without question, the law’s intention was to make coverage more affordable and accessible to all Americans, so we hope that policymakers act to remedy this “glitch” before families are required to have coverage.

Stay tuned… we’ll keep you updated!