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Opinion | ACA Healthcare requirements add perspective

Published: Thursday, February 28, 2013

Updated: Thursday, February 28, 2013 22:02

While many recognize the need for healthcare reform, few realize the increased burden health insurance coverage will add to the government, business owners, employees and families that drive the economy.

As part of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 (ACA), workers will soon notice the new Box 12D on their W-2 forms, the total cost of employer-sponsored health insurance coverage, which is to reflect the part of the health insurance cost paid by the employer and the part paid by the employee.

The disclosure requirement, as a portion of the summary of benefits and coverage mandate, is meant to make workers more cost-conscious and will hopefully add a more informed and responsible discussion surrounding the level of assistance our government is able to provide.

Beyond debating the role of government, it is important for the magnitude of costs associated with the ACA to be properly understood by the 63.9 percent of Americans who are currently paying for health insurance coverage of over 99.5 million Americans.

This is soon to be extended to 50 million additional Americans without any health insurance coverage.

In addition to an employee’s healthcare system payment are general taxes that account for roughly 20 percent of federal spending and 10 percent of state spending supporting Medicare and Medicaid.

It is our hope this information will resonate with Americans and add greater perspective and responsibility to the conversation surrounding healthcare reform and the demands it submits to the government.

Because many people who receive health insurance from their employers have no idea how much it actually costs, maybe now the burdens placed on business owners will be realized by the public.

This new knowledge will hopefully lead more people to understand how these increased costs come at a price, and will prove significant to many unknowing American families.

According to C. Eugene Steuerle, a tax economist at the Urban Institute, “the [health] benefits are not taxable, and most of the spending is hidden, so we don’t consider the trade-offs. If we want to get control of health care costs, people have to be aware of them.”

Even though employers with fewer than 250 W-2 forms to file are exempt from the disclosure requirement, the value of collecting this information will help support the sentiments of conservatives in showing how costly the healthcare system is and ultimately why we need to make healthcare more transparent, affordable, and focused on meaningful, patient-centered reforms.

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