A “glitch” in the 2010 Affordable Care Act could result in families paying thousands of dollars in health care premiums, and potentially leave up to 500,000 children uninsured.
Congress could move to fix this “family glitch,” says Kelly Kennedy in USA Today, but it seems unlikely, given the recent vote to defund the ACA.
In drafting the ACA, Congress defined “affordable” as up to 9.5 percent of an employee’s household income. This was so people would not abandon their employer-sponsored plans for subsidized health insurance through the exchanges. The glitch is that it only applies to the employee — not the family, which often includes children.
If an employee receives affordable health insurance, but not the family, he or she may be ineligible for subsidized plans through the exchanges. Experts estimate that the average plan for a single person is around $5,600, but goes up to $15,700 to include families in this situation. The majority of employers would help cover these costs, but not all.
Veterans receiving health benefits through the VA, but not for their families, or grandparents receiving Medicare, could wind up missing coverage for children. However, in the new law, there are options for child-only coverage.
Some experts suspect that people falling under the family glitch, as well as undocumented immigrants, might not think to check the exchanges for what is available for families and children.
Families are not penalized for not purchasing coverage under the new rules, but the spirit of the law was to make available coverage affordable for families.