"Glitch" in Obamacare Might Leave Poor Families Uninsured

| by

The Obamacare plan is getting more criticism lately over a "glitch" in the law that prevents many impoverished families from being able to have healthcare. 

Families that can't afford to pay the employer coverage they're offered at work will not be able to get financial assistance from the government to buy private health insurance. 

The administration is aware of this problem but it is difficult to change, especially since the House is controlled by Republicans who are not fans of Obamacare. 

Officials said Obama's administration attempted to lessen the impact, and have been able to make it so those families who can't get coverge would not have to pay a tax penalty if they stay uninsured. 

"This is a very significant problem, and we have urged that it be fixed," Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, said. "It is clear that the only way this can be fixed is through legislation and not the regulatory process."

On October 1 of this year, middle-class uninsured will be able to receive government-subsidized private coverage. That coverage will start on January 1, 2014. People of low income will be "steered to expanded safety-net programs." All Americans will be required to obtain health insurance in any way possible, whether it be through an employer, a government program, or a private plan. 

But the glitch could prevent up to 500,000 children from receiving health insurance. 

"The children's community is disappointed by the administration's decision to deny access to coverage for children based on a bogus definition of affordability," Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus, said. 

This "glitch" is due to how Congress defined the word "affordable."

According to the law, affordable coverage is nothing more than 9.5 percent of a family's income. Those who have coverage that is considered affordable are not able to get government subsidies to go into any new insurance markets. 

Congress also said that "affordable" is "keyed to the cost of self-only coverage offered to an individual worker, not his or her family." 

This is where the meat of the problem lies. An individual health insurance plan for one person costs about $5,600 for the worker. Family coverage is almost three times higher at $15,700. 

If an employer won't help with the cost of family premiums, some families will be stuck without insurance as they might not be able to afford the premiums on their own, and won't be able to get subsidies from the government. 

Many employers are happy that they are not required to pay for family coverage. 

"They are bound by the law and cannot extend further than what the law provides," Neil Trautwein, vice president of the National Retail Federation, said.