The Affordable Care Act is looking less and less affordable. Start with the IRS’s new estimate for what the cheapest family plan will cost by 2016: $20,000 a year to cover two adults and three kids. And that will only cover 60 percent of medical bills, so add hefty out-of-pocket costs, too. The next surprise is for parents who thought their kids would be covered by an employer. Sloppy wording in the law left that unclear until last week, when the IRS ruled that kids won’t be covered.
Starting in 2014, the law will require employers with 50 or more full-time employees to offer coverage or pay a penalty. “Affordable” coverage, that is — meaning the employee can’t be told to contribute more than 9.5 percent of his salary. For example, a worker earning $40,000 a year cannot be required to pay more than $3.800.
But the law doesn’t specifically mandate family coverage — and now the administration says that won’t be required. You can see why: If the lowest-cost family plan (again, two adults and three kids) is to run a whopping $20,000, and if the employee’s contribution is limited to $3,800, the employer’s tab would be $16,200 — adding about $7.40 an hour to the cost of that employee. Wisely, the IRS announced on Jan. 30 that employers won’t have to pay for dependents.
But the Congressional Budget Office’s much-cited prediction that ObamaCare would leave only 30 million people uninsured by 2016 was based on the assumption that kids would be covered by employers…So how will the kids be covered? They won’t. The IRS shocked the law’s advocates by announcing that the insurance exchanges won’t provide subsidies for a child whose parent is covered at work. Nor will these parents be penalized for not insuring their children — the IRS will kindly consider the kids exempt from the mandate.
Between this and the economy, expect a lot of misdirection over the next couple of years.