According to the most recent annual report by the Health Cost Institute, employers who provide their employees with health coverage are spending more and more every year. This rising cost takes a toll on the business community and the economy of North Carolina. Business owners ability to pay employees, their ability to recruit employees and even their ability to cover their own health insurance has a significant impact on their business decisions limiting their ability to invest in and grow their companies.
One reason for this is that North Carolina’s health care providers, especially hospitals, provide what is known as “charity care” – care for which they provide, but do not get paid. But the hospital still needs to pay their workers and other expenses.
In a recent interview, NC Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen told us “What happens is we pay for those folks, we do, because they show up in the emergency room... and where is the most expensive place to get care? The emergency room.” Much of the cost of charity care is passed along (cost shifted) to insured patients and tax payers in the form of higher prices for hospital services, tax breaks for the hospitals and ultimately higher health insurance premiums.
A new law would help to reduce the amount of charity care, and therefore the costs that are passed along to insured North Carolinians.
This session, Republicans in the North Carolina General Assembly House introduced the pro-business H655, aptly named “NC Health Care for Working Families. ” This bill is aimed at providing health coverage to some of the estimated 1.1 million uninsured citizens in North Carolina. A majority of those uninsured are not receiving health benefits from their employer, are not making enough money to afford health insurance on the individual market and do not qualify for a subsidy.
We have talked many times about families that are unable to afford health insurance despite working – and working hard. This is because the cost of pharmaceuticals and care has continued to skyrocket causing health insurance premiums to rise. This bill would help make healthcare accessible to many of these working families.
The bill specifically targets those making 133% or less of the Federal Poverty Level – currently for a family of four, that would be $34,247.5 or less.
"NC Health Care for Working Families” would make medical insurance available to working North Carolinians who don’t get health insurance from their employers. It would also be offered to caregivers, expectant mothers and those unable to work more than they do for medical reasons.
According to Secretary Cohen, this program would not require the state to increase taxes on families. It would be paid for primarily by reclaiming over $4 billion that North Carolina is currently paying in federal taxes, without any benefit to returned to the state. The remainder would come from assessing health insurers and hospitals, who stand to benefit from “NC Health Care for Working Families.”
If implemented, H655, “NC Health Care for Working Families,” would ensure that hospitals be paid for the quality service they are already providing to low-income working patients who are unable to afford health insurance or to pay directly for their care. Hospitals should then use this new revenue to right-size (lower) the cost of services for their paying patients, thus saving us all money on health care costs and ultimately the cost to businesses in the form of employees health insurance premiums.
Take Action: H655 is a crucial step to helping working North Carolinians and solving the opioid epidemic
In North Carolina, where 20 people die every day from opioid involved overdoses, and even people who work hard to support themselves and their families can't afford health coverage. This means less access to life saving treatment for victims of the opioid epidemic. H655, "NC Health Care for Working Families," a bill with bipartisan support, could bring relief to over 500,000 North Carolinians.
In addition this bill will:
- Help struggling rural hospitals
- Relieve healthcare costs for small businesses
- Bring needed financial relief to struggling families
Write your representative now to demand action on this bill that is crucial to North Carolina's future.