State subsidies and tax credits for small businesses providing employee health insurance would be good for the economy Waiting for the federal government to figure out how to insure all Americans for health care has left millions without coverage. Costs keep rising, and companies keep cutting employee health benefits out of their budgets.
In North Carolina, as a result, more than 250,000 people have no health insurance to pay for routine care to keep them well or to deal with day-to-day medical problems. Those who wind up acutely ill in hospital emergency rooms usually suffer even more personal financial misery and drive up health costs for everyone.
Much more must be done to deal with this complicated problem that affects so many Americans’ quality of life. Fortunately, at the state level the N.C. Institute of Medicine has a plan that warrants attention. At least in the short run, covering thousands more Tar Heels while helping out small businesses sounds better than banking on the president and Congress for a national solution.
The plan touted by the Durham-based institute would pay 90 percent of costs in the range of $15,000 to $75,000 for people working for businesses that have fewer than 25 employees. (One third of those employees must earn less than $12 an hour.) Workers would have to make copayments for routine care, but at least they would have access. And they would be largely covered for the treatment of a major illness. (more…)