While we all wait for government to shut down, I thought I’d share some Affordable Care Act news as it relates to the faith world.
The Associated Baptist Press had the story last week that provisions to allow small businesses to purchase health insurance at a more competitive rate could also benefit churches.
The Small Business Health Options Plan is part of the Affordable Care Act aimed at providing health care for 48 million uninsured Americans. The law requires most Americans to purchase health insurance or pay a fine, and businesses with more than 50 full-time employees to offer health care coverage to workers and their dependents under age 26.
More than half of the uninsured — 26 million people — are small-business owners, employees and their dependents. Because they lack the bargaining clout of larger companies, small businesses pay a higher rate for employee coverage, and as a result many cannot afford coverage.
Currently, small employers pay rates based on the costs for insuring members of an individual group. For churches, that means anyone with pre-existing medical conditions or older staff members could be denied coverage or pay higher costs.
At very small churches, with three or four staff members, most plans require 70 percent participation. That means if one staff member balks at the high premium or decides it makes more sense to be covered under a spouse’s plan, the church cannot participate.
The ACA removes those barriers.
“This may impact some churches who have only offered coverage to ministerial staff in the past,” Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Church Benefits Board President Gary Skeen told the ABP. “Remember the goal of the legislation is to allow more people access to medical coverage.”
Is the ACA going to help anyone you know get health coverage?