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.
That can make a huge difference; the Kaiser Family Foundation said an average plan for an individual is about $5,600, but it goes up to $15,700 for families. Most employers help out with those costs, but not all.
“We saw this two-and-a-half years ago and thought, ‘Has anyone else noticed this?’” said Kosali Simon, a professor of public affairs at Indiana University who specializes in health economics. “Everyone said, ‘No, no. You must be wrong.’ But we weren’t, and that’s going to leave a lot of people out.”
The issue has recently received attention, especially after former president Bill Clinton highlighted it in a recent speech.
“The family glitch is definitely a drafting error that Congress made that needs to be fixed,” said Joan Alker, executive director of the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families. “But that seems unlikely.”
This is just one of many problems that came to light after the law was adopted.
The bottom line is that Nancy Pelosi was right that we would find out what was in the law after if was passed, but so far the discovery process hasn’t meant much good news to the American people. Obviously, the administration will continue to blame Republicans and their opposition to the law for everything that goes wrong with it. It would be more productive, however, not to mention novel, if the president would acknowledge that he too is responsible for what is going on and failed to forsee many of the bad consequences resulting from the adoption of the law, and explain to us how he is planning on fixing what’s wrong with Obamacare.