- Rep. Henry Cuellar on border crisis: ‘Playing defense on the one-yard line’
- Activists vow to occupy fast-food restaurants to get higher pay
- Rep. Luis Gutierrez: Senate Dems wary of immigration politics
- Summer camp for 1 percenters: Sushi, limos and shopping at FAO Schwarz
- Colorado gun crackdown law found to be built on faulty data
- Hank Aaron steps to fundraising plate for Democrat Michelle Nunn
- ISIL terrorists blow up burial site of Jonah, vow more of same
- Impeach Obama, say 35 percent in new poll
- Taliban yank 14 Shiites off bus, bind and shoot them on Afghan road
- Obama takes aim at ‘corporate deserters’
Insurance law strains small firms
Question of the Day
A landmark law requiring Massachusetts residents to buy health insurance will add costs to small businesses already grappling with difficult health care expenses.
To help residents obey the new law, the state requires employers to take steps to increase health insurance coverage. In some cases, businesses must arrange plans that allow employees to buy health insurance with pretax money, which can help reduce employee health premiums.
A fine of about $300 will be charged to companies that don’t enhance their insurance options.
“It is very early in the process, but we are not sure how the small-employer community is going to react to these new requirements as they unfold,” said Laurie Felland, lead author of a new report by the Center for Studying Health System Change, which examines the health insurance law and its effect on small businesses. “The mandate for individuals to buy insurance could be what hurts them the most.”
The Center for Studying Health System Change is a nonpartisan policy research organization in Washington.
Exhausted by uncompensated health care costs that acted as an albatross on the state’s economy, Mitt Romney, then the governor and now a Republican presidential contender, shepherded the bill through the state legislature in 2006.
About two-thirds of the uninsured work force in Massachusetts is employed by small businesses, making those employers more susceptible to an increase in health care costs as more people fall in line with the mandate to buy health insurance.
“When these people want health insurance, they’ll turn to their employer and in turn, cost will go up,” Ms. Felland said. “There is a concern about how prepared the small-employer market is for this change.”
The deadline for adults to buy health insurance was July 1. About 15,000 people who had no health insurance have bought some form of coverage through their employer or individually. But the state is targeting about 300,000 people who have no insurance; therefore, market observers say the law gradually will take a toll on small businesses.
“The tax penalty on people for not buying health insurance is about $200 this year, but will continue to go up over the next few years, so more people will likely find it cost-effective to buy a minimal coverage plan to avoid the penalties. And that could amount to a slow bleed on small businesses that offer health insurance but have employees that hadn’t, until now, taken advantage of it,” said a market analyst speaking on the condition of anonymity.
The state’s goal to implement a near-universal health care system will be judged on whether the law’s new requirements reduce health insurance costs and get more people insured.
Some success already was achieved as 135,000 low-income state residents now have health insurance through an expansion of public health care programs such as Medicaid.
“It is a mammoth undertaking to communicate the complexities of new obligations to 190,000 businesses in Massachusetts,” said Jon Kingsdale, executive director of the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority, which oversees the program. “We’ve done a good job of reaching out, but I assume there are still questions.”
Second- and third-stringers eye 2016 if front-runner stumbles
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- Michelle Obama says money in politics is bad, asks donors for 'big, fat check'
- Hamas rejects Kerry's call for cease-fire; Fears grow others could join fight against Israel
- Presidents of Honduras, Guatemala blame U.S. for border children crisis
- PRUDEN: The Democratic-wannabe mice under Hillary Clinton's feet
- Crime-ridden U.S. cities differ on ways to fight gun violence
- Let it roll: D.C. Council hits Las Vegas on taxpayer's dime, leaves $14,000 tab
- Obama takes aim at 'corporate deserters'
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq