Employer-Sponsored Coverage Law Increasing Attention to Issue of Uninsured
A law (SB 2) that will require some employers to provide health insurance to their workers or pay into a state fund to provide such coverage is drawing increased attention to the number of self-employed people and small-business owners without health insurance, the Los Angeles Daily News reports (Pondel, Los Angeles Daily News, 6/13). SB 2, which is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2006, will require employers with 200 or more employees to provide health insurance to workers and their dependents by 2006 or pay into the state fund. Employers with 50 to 199 employees will have to provide health insurance only to workers by 2007. The law will exempt employers with fewer than 20 employees. The law also will exempt employers with 20 to 49 employees unless the state provides them with tax credits to subsidize the cost of health insurance for employees. A measure to repeal the law will appear on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot (California Healthline, 6/8).
Although the law is contributing increased attention to the issue of the uninsured, Gerald Kominski of the University of California-Los Angeles Center for Health Policy Research said that the law would be more effective if it also required firms with fewer than 50 employees to provide health insurance or contribute to the state fund, the Daily News reports. Kominski said that reductions to overall health care costs will be delayed if firms with fewer than 50 employees are not required to provide health coverage, according to the Daily News.
SB 2 will "scarcely expand coverage, and do so at a prohibitive cost," a Riverside Press-Enterprise editorial states. Although providing health insurance to more California residents "is a worthy goal," there are "better ways to shrink the ranks of the uninsured," such as enacting tax code revisions, the editorial says. The editorial concludes, "Thoughtful voters who want to rejuvenate California's economy will support the law's repeal" (Riverside Press-Enterprise, 6/12).
Additional information on SB 2 is available online.