Fixing the “Family Glitch” in Maine and Nationwide
The Affordable Care Act was a major step forward for health insurance in the United States. For the first time, millions could access healthcare coverage at affordable rates, rather than pay through the nose or avoid seeing a doctor altogether.
But the ACA as it currently stands includes a “family glitch.” In cases where workers can afford employer healthcare plans for themselves, their whole family loses eligibility to buy healthcare plans in the ACA marketplace at a reduced price, even if the employer’s plan doesn’t offer affordable coverage for family members. This issue leaves about 5 million Americans uninsured, 34,000 of whom are Mainers.
Take Winslow resident John Farr, for example. When John was promoted to a coordinator position at the T-Mobile call center in Oakland, his salary was raised just $600 ($50 per month) beyond the limit for MaineCare. While T-Mobile offered health insurance, John didn’t make enough to also cover his wife and three children. It was two years before he could afford healthcare coverage for his family.
But that may soon change. Earlier this week, President Biden announced that his administration proposes to eliminate the “family glitch” once and for all in 2023. By providing families who can’t access “affordable” family healthcare coverage through an employer with a premium tax credit, they will be able to purchase an affordable plan through the health insurance marketplace. This move is expected to lower the cost of healthcare for one million Americans, and cover an additional 200,000 uninsured people. No action from Congress would be necessary to make this change.
“Once today’s proposed rule is finalized, starting next year working families in America will get the help they need to afford full family coverage,” Biden said on Tuesday.
“This proposed fix would extend affordable health coverage to an estimated 34,000 people in Maine – a welcome development as we continue our work to expand access to health care in Maine. Having health insurance saves lives, keeps people healthy, reduces costs to families, and keeps people working and contributing to our economy. This fix is good for the health of Maine people and the health of our economy.”
If passed, family members of workers in need of affordable coverage can access it through CoverME.gov, Maine’s Health Insurance Marketplace. After Governor Mills launched CoverME last fall, over 66,000 Mainers obtained healthcare plans through the state marketplace. Maine’s uninsured rate is now 5.1 percent, below the national average. This is just one of many healthcare achievements our leaders in Augusta have made since Governor Mills took office three years ago.
Mainers for Working Families commends our leaders in the Maine Legislature and Governor Mills for their efforts to make healthcare more accessible and affordable. Every Mainer deserves quality healthcare they can afford.