The Secretary of Health and Human Services released a report explaining in very clear language the effect of health insurance reform on the ability of small businesses to offer health insurance. According to HHS’s report, 56,593 small businesses in Maryland alone would qualify for an attractive tax credit. In addition, health insurance reform would end the catastrophe that effects some businesses when insurers hike premium costs as a result of an illness or injury of even a single worker. Small businesses have been rated by their own experience. So when one person of 50 has a serious illness, incurring hospital care, the rates for the business are directly affected. For a huge business, an illness or two does not alter the experience very much, because of the law of averages. But small businesses can be forced into giving up insurance benefits if two people are diagnosed with cancer.
The new law, if it passes, would forbid rating based on health status. In the end, the law of averages across the spectrum of the state or the country will drive insurance prices. In addition, the new law would end the lifetime cap on insurance benefits. This was an issue advocated by the late Christopher Reeve, who would not have made the progress he did without personal resources.
Finally, the law would end the practice of discrimination against women. There are insurance plans that refuse to cover women of child-bearing years, or treat pregnancies as uncovered conditions. (Maryland law is stronger than some states, and does not permit a blanket prohibition against insurance for childbearing.)
The economic hardships that have befallen many employees and businesses have brought some of these issues to the forefront. I hope we have the fortitude to make some much-needed reform to the existing system.