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What health reform means for the people of Illinois

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Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Affordable Care Act: Before and After

The public debate around the Affordable Care Act has given rise to rumors and myths around how it will affect our lives, our families and our businesses. No surprise really, when you consider the fact that a single (2,600-page) document is well on its way to changing health care as we know it. So how will it affect your life? Do you know?

Let’s paint a before-and-after picture using data in a
new report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The report details how the Affordable Care Act will help families and small businesses save on health-insurance premiums and out-of-pocket costs in 2014.

It’s no secret that families and small businesses have long been grappling with rising insurance costs. From 1999 to 2009 alone, premiums more than doubled – rising by more than $7,500 for an average family getting insurance through an employer, according to HHS. Meanwhile, the percentage of small businesses offering health insurance to their employees dropped to 59 percent from 65 percent in this same 10-year period. A rough ride all around.

Just three years from now, middle-class families could save up to $2,300 a year when purchasing private insurance in the new state-based health insurance exchanges, which are designed, in part, to help people review and compare a variety of health insurance plans. Also, a family of four with an income of $33,525 will qualify for tax credits and reduced cost-sharing that could put as much as $14,900 a year back in their own bank account.

A read of this HHS report tells you that small businesses may be basking in the after-glow of the Affordable Care Act as well. In 2014, it says small businesses could save up to $350 per family on average and may be eligible for tax credits of up to 50 percent of their premiums. In fact, the tax credits are available to small businesses now. I’ll borrow an
example from the HHS: if you own a company with 10 employees earning an average of $20,000 annually, you could currently receive credits of $35,000 annually.

So there’s your (quick) before-and-after. Of course, the “after” picture is always so much prettier. In this case, it does outline just a handful of ways the Affordable Care Act can impact the health and the lives of families and small business owners in Illinois.

Megan McDonnell

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