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ACA in Wisconsin, Healthcare in Wisconsin

5 Questions to Ask Yourself, Before June 5th – Question 2: What does health care reform have to do with the economy?

We all have something at stake when it comes to health care reform implementation, or lack thereof – and we all have a voice through our vote. Our 5 day blog series, “5 Questions to Ask Yourself, Before June 5th” is an opportunity for you to learn and share what the upcoming election means for health care reform implementation and women’s health in Wisconsin. Wisconsin women need leaders and policymakers who are on board with giving women and their families more affordable and accessible health care options and choices. Voting is one of the most important ways you can raise your voice for women’s health. If you need more information on where to vote or how to register, visit wisconsinvote.org.

Yesterday, we talked about lower income families now having fewer health care options in Wisconsin due to changes to safety-net programs. We need health care reform! Like most things regarding public policy, today’s question fits hand-in-hand with yesterday’s. That is, what does health care reform have to do with the economy?

Women’s health is an economic issue. As primary caretaker’s, women need to be healthy – to work and take care of their loved ones. Here are three important factors to consider, when talking about the economy and health care reform:

  • In today‘s economic climate, jobs are hard to come by – and job growth in Wisconsin is rather “snail-like.” Particularly, college students and recent graduate are having a hard time gaining employment. For more on Wisconsin’s job “growth” see this blog from the Wisconsin Budget Project.
  • If you do have a job, consider that over the last ten years Employer Sponsored Insurance (ESI) has declined, in Wisconsin and nationally.
  • If you do have ESI, consider that more and more employers are shifting towards high deductible, low quality plans.

Now consider this:

  • Thankfully, health care reform is making it easier for young adults to have access to coverage by expanding the length of time they can stay on their parent’s plan. Currently –because of this provision – young adults can stay on their parent’s insurance plan until their 26th birthday. This helped 2.5 million young adults gain coverage, nationally. With the job market in Wisconsin at a lag, it is great to know that young adults still have an option for health care coverage through their parent’s insurance plan.
  • Small businesses are able to get tax credits to help pay for up to 35% of the companies’ health costs. Unfortunately, only about 17% of the otherwise eligible (employ less than 25 people, pay an average salary of less than $50,000, and provide health care benefits where the employer pays at least 50% of the premium) took advantage of the tax credit. According to Families USA and the Small Business Majority, roughly 3.2 million small businesses where eligible for the credit – indicating more outreach needs to be done to educate businesses about the credit.

Young adults and women with ESI who are employed by small businesses are still at risk of losing coverage, however. If the Supreme Court should strike down the law (decision projected this month), Wisconsin needs state leaders who will keep provisions of health care reform that have already benefited us and expand affordable insurance options further for Wisconsinites losing their employer sponsored insurance coverage. That’s why question two –what does health care reform have to do with the economy? – is important to evaluate on your way to the polls next Tuesday.

Check-in tomorrow, for question 3: What recent steps have Wisconsin leaders taken to ensure that Wisconsin’s middle-class have affordable, accessible coverage options?

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