Today, North Dakota has moved a bill into legislation to increase the number of children who can receive health insurance coverage. The plan was to increase the eligibility standards of their State Children’s Health Insurance Program to 200 percent of the poverty level, or stated another way, the Federal and State Government would contribute and pay for coverage of children in a family earning $42,400 a year.
Any effort to increase coverage for children is highly applauded by this lawyer, because the cost of health care is so enormous, particularly with accidental tragedy or severe illness. But this issue should be more aggressively addressed at the national level.
Why should a child of a family working to make a living with $42,000 in income or less be covered while the child with a family income of $50,000 in income not be covered. Why are we only covering the less fortunate of children, and adults for that matter.
The common denominator in each family is that they are working. The working class should not be forced to pay for health insurance for their family from their paycheck. Instead, our government should rewrite ERISA, the law that encouraged health insurance to be offered to employees. ERISA is archaic, causing more confusion that settles it and needs reform Why not mandate that employers must offer and pay for all coverage of all family members.
The business owner, of course, will complain that the costs will drive up prices of goods, and services and they will not be able to compete, and even may go out of business. Therefore the simple and sometimes overlooked solution is an incentive program for businesses to comply. Current law allows deductions for health insurance premiums as a business expense for companies. Expand the deduction to include beneficiaries. Additionally, tax breaks and incentives can be given for compliance and penalties for non compliance. A tax break that allows the costs of an average premium for family coverage can certainly be calculated by those charged with such tasks. Reduce the taxes paid by business owners and companies reduces the obligation of government to collect and fund with taxes, while increasing the direct payment of premiums to insurance companies, and will increase revenue for insurers, thereby reducing the cost of insurance for all. Additionally, if the formula is properly calculated for tax credit, virtually no additional “cost” to the business or owner will be incurred.
Lastly, pubic funds that are now devoted to such causes as the North Dakota State Children’s Health Insurance Program, can be diverted solely to fund and help those children that have no insurance because the parents are not working or cannot work, increasing their benefits.
Taxing individuals and business to funnel to a program for the poor is justified, but if they are working poor, lets cut out the middle man (Government) and the bureaucracy that comes with it.