Missouri Follows Lead of Other States - Makes Health Insurance More Affordable
The Show-Me State is showing residents and businesses how to make access to quality health insurance more affordable. Primarily aimed to at small businesses with the idea to help them provide access to affordable health plans for their employees, the Missouri House recently drafted a Bill that allows small businesses to pay for health insurance coverage premiums with pre-tax dollars. The measure is similar to ones implemented recently in other states that have mandated that businesses of all sizes provide affordable health insurance to their employees. The Missouri plan does not go as far as to require individuals to have insurance and therefore require that business provide it – but it does provide a road map to making such medical coverage more affordable, according to its authors.
Missouri is also one of the 30 States that does not deny people with poor health access to coverage by providing Risk Pool Insurance for such otherwise “uninsurable” individuals. The new legislation also intends to bring down the cost of Risk Pool medical insurance. Republican representative Doug Ervin admits that it is unclear exactly how many Missourians will directly benefit from the House measure but says it is step in the right direction and at the very least will encourage small businesses, those with less tan 50 employees, by providing incentives to contribute something towards health insurance for their employees.
Though not nearly as sweeping as a health insurance reform package that Governor Matt Blunt put forth earlier this year, that was effectively derailed by the health insurance companies, Ervin says the Bill will still help the uninsured in Missouri in many ways. One of the cornerstones of the bill is that it gives small businesses more control over their health costs. Under the bill a company with less than 50 employees can set aside a specific amount per employee in pre-tax dollars, instead of a percentage of the group health insurance costs. Furthermore, the proposed legislation keeps ownership of the plan with the worker, so they can keep the policy if they ever change jobs.
The bill also take into account the plight of over 6,000 people who lost their jobs because of changes in free-trade laws, and offers them a way to save money and purchase affordable health insurance. Under the program, such individuals can receive a tax credit worth 65 percent of the cost of their insurance premium. That is a tax credit, not a tax deduction, an important distinction according to advocates of the bill.
And finally, the bill eases some of the restrictions on getting into the high-risk pool. It also decreases the cap on the maximum price for a high-risk pool insurance policy from 170 percent to 135 percent of the market price for a similar private or group insurance policy for a healthy person.