We must fix the ACA’s marriage penalty
The unfortunate delay in the Affordable Care Act’s employer mandate until 2015 gives our elected representatives in Washington an important opportunity: They can get together and remove the ACA’s little-known marriage penalty.
An unfortunate exclusion in the Affordable Care Act bars access to the exchanges to otherwise eligible spouses and children of workers who are offered family coverage through their employers — even if that family coverage is not affordable by ACA standards.
Unless Congress acts soon, the ACA will leave many unsuspecting working families underinsured and medically and financially vulnerable, with high family premiums, family deductibles and family out-of-pocket limits. Furthermore, exclusion from the exchanges also bars these families from accessing the ACA’s premium subsidies and tax credits. What were our representatives thinking?
As U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison told me last fall, “No law is perfect.” However, the whole purpose of the ACA is to make health coverage affordable for working families. Congress needs to take advantage of this hiatus and act quickly to remove the ACA’s hidden marriage penalty.
Amy Hummel, Robbinsdale
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Recent stories, letters and editorials on health insurance left out important details that would give readers a more complete picture.
With “Smart reforms on health plan costs” (July16), the Star Tribune Editorial Board continued to show its lack of understanding of the complexity of state insurance programs and its willingness to leave out important facts. For example, the report referenced in the editorial includes the fact that Minnesota’s health plans lost $191 million on the state’s General Assistance Medical Care Program. The editorial cites profits in one program without the balance of losses in another, even while knowing the programs came to the insurers as a package deal. A deal, by the way, the insurers are required by law to take. (A fact that is also ignored.)
A story made allegations about the financial status of Minnesota HMOs. The report completely ignored the fact that as the cost of care continues to rise, so must the amount of money in reserve. It’s the law. You don’t have to take my word for it — ask the state’s insurance experts at the Minnesota Department of Commerce.
Profits and administrative expenses in Minnesota’s nonprofit health insurance system are some of the lowest in the country. Last year, our seven members’ spent $52 million every day for medical care for enrollees. Profits from their insurance business were 0.57 percent, and administrative expenses were 8.2 percent of overall revenue.
These are important conversations. And it’s important that they are based on all the facts.
JULIE BRUNNER, St. Paul
The writer is executive director of the Minnesota Council of Health Plans.
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Editorial Board’s inconsistency shines
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.