1.2 million Americans may soon have access to expanded health insurance coverage through a new tweak President Joe Biden is planning to make to the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
On Tuesday (April 5), President Biden and former President Barack Obama will formally propose a policy change to ACA, also known as Obamacare, at a White House event. The change would allow at least 200,000 uninsured Americans to get comprehensive health benefits and an additional 1 million Americans would have access to cheaper coverage.
The policy change President Biden is set to propose would fix what experts have coined as “the family glitch.” The “glitch” affects partners, spouses, and dependents of low-income people that work for companies that offer family health insurance coverage.
For people who fall under “the family glitch,” participating in their employer’s family coverage costs them more than 9.6 percent of their household income. The coverage falls under Obamacare’s official definition of affordable, which means these families should be eligible for the subsidized private coverage ACA provides.
But with ACA's current rules, eligibility for private insurance is based on the cost of individual employer healthcare policies and doesn’t include family policies. This means there are many cases where a family's coverage cost is more than 9.6 percent of their income, but these people are still not eligible for subsidized private insurance because their individual employer policy would cost less.
The "family glitch" affects 5.1 million people according to the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. Of these millions of Americans, some opt to still get the family coverage, but face high premiums, while others go uninsured because of the hefty price.
The Biden Administration will attempt to fix this by proposing an expansion to Obamacare. Although it's expected that not everyone eligible will take advantage of the new benefits, more families would have access to subsidized private insurance through the Affordable Care Act’s online marketplaces.
A White House senior official said in a statement that the administration hopes the policy change will go into effect in 2023. Before the change can officially launch, the proposal has to go through a public comment period and further review by the Treasury Department.
The White House won’t have to get Congress's approval for the change since it’s only expanding the way it administers Obamacare.
“We’re excited about this,” a senior White House official told reporters on Monday (April 4). “We think it’s the most significant administrative action to improve implementation of the ACA that we’ve taken since the law was first passed in 2010.”