The Health Care Overhaul & The American Middle Class
By Dave Lucas
Albany, NY – As the healthcare bill awaits Senate approval on Capitol Hill, people across America have questions that remain to be answered - one being how the average middle-class family will fare under the plan. Capital District Bureau Chief Dave Lucas has more
For those struggling to pay bills, who can't buy insurance because it costs too much, reform means they'll eventually have coverage. For those on the high end of the income scale, it will mean higher taxes. But what about those in-between? Some economists place the range for middle class at individuals making between $30,000 and $88,000 a year. Washington says the health reform bill will cut the cost of health care for the middle-class by putting American families and small business owners in control of their own health care.
The health reform package establishes new "insurance exchanges" for the purchase of health insurance by those whose employers don't offer it. The bill caps the share of family income spent on health-care premiums. Consider a family of four who earns about $33,075 and enrolls in a plan with a total premium of $9,435. The family would be only be responsible for about 14 percent, or $1,323, according to an analysis performed by the Commonwealth Fund. A family who earned $88,200, would have to pay about 88 percent, or $8,379, of that same premium.
Under bill language, "qualified health plans" will have to provide - with no cost-sharing - immunizations and other preventive health services for infants, children, and adolescents. This provision takes effect six months after the bill becomes law.
Supporters say the bill will provide an immediate 35 percent tax credit to small businesses offering health coverage to employees. When the new insurance exchange is set up, employers who purchase coverage receive a two-year tax credit of up to 50 percent of the their costs to offer insurance.
In addition, they said, the bill provides middle class families (incomes up to $88,000 for a family of four) with tax credits to help pay for coverage in the exchange. For a family of four making $50,000, the average tax credit will be approximately $5,800, they said, citing numbers from the House Ways and Means Committee.