Thursday, January 20, 2011

Health Care Repeal Will Raise Costs for Families

Sec. Kathleen Sebelius
Secretary of Health and Human Services
Posted: January 19, 2011 10:34 AM

Sometime today, the House of Representatives is expected to vote on legislation that, if enacted, would repeal the Affordable Care Act signed by President Obama ten months ago. As I have written before, this repeal would be a big mistake that would hurt American families just as our nation's economy is showing signs of improvement.

Average health insurance premiums for an American family totaled $13,770 a year in 2010. And the cost of health insurance has jumped 131 percent in the last ten years. For many families, these costs force the kind of choices that nobody should have to make. "Do I pay my insurance premium or my mortgage? Do I sacrifice my health benefits or my retirement savings?" The Affordable Care Act is designed to free Americans from those terrible trade-offs by providing them with the security of coverage they can afford.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is a non-partisan agency and one of the most reliable sources of information about the impact of the new law. Their analysis of the health law's impact on health insurance costs for families is eye-opening. When fully implemented, the health law will save the average family of four between $2,265 and $9,794 a year on insurance costs, depending on their income. The chart below illustrates these savings.

(FPL: Federal Poverty Level, at 100% is $22,050 annual income for a family of four in 2010.)

The health law also reduces the cost of insurance for small business owners, including family-owned businesses. Such companies can already claim a 35 percent tax credit against the cost of covering their employees. Under the Affordable Care Act, that credit will grow to 50 percent in 2014. Repeal would take those credits away and leave small employers at the mercy of large insurers.

In addition, repeal would increase the federal budget deficit. The CBO estimates that repealing the Affordable Care Act would add another $230 billion in debt over the next ten years. What does that have to do with families? Any parent knows that when you borrow today, you have to pay back tomorrow. Do we want to add to the debt our children will inherit from us at the same time we take away their security and freedom that affordable health care brings? I don't think so.

This is why we are working hard to carefully implement this important bill. Working closely with States, we are putting into place reforms that are critical to making good on the promise of the Affordable Care Act: improved access to care, lowered costs and a reduced deficit for the American people.

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