Letter: Health-care prospects to improve

As Louisiana, along with the rest of the nation, gets ready to implement the landmark federal health-reform law in the coming months, it is critical that citizens have access to clear, accurate information. So it was encouraging to see Blue Cross help this effort through the Louisiana Healthcare Education Coalition (“Group discusses changes to federal health care” — June 27). Unfortunately, the article left out some important details that consumers should know before the new law takes effect in January.

The article quotes LHEC as saying insurance premiums will rise under the new law, and notes that individuals will be required to have coverage. But it fails to mention that most people will be shielded from these costs because of new federal tax credits.

Even if the “sticker price” of a plan increases, this does not reflect what most people will actually pay. These tax credits are a bipartisan idea that is supported by politicians as diverse as President Barack Obama and Gov. Bobby Jindal. The tax credits will allow thousands of uninsured, moderate-income families to afford private coverage for the first time, and will help reduce premiums for others.

The majority of Louisianans will see little or no change in their health coverage under Obamacare, even as their uninsured neighbors see major improvements. That is because most people in our state work for large companies that already offer private insurance — or get their coverage through the federal Medicare program. Those things will not change come January.

The real losers are Louisianans living in poverty, who won’t be eligible for tax credits and won’t be able to enroll in Medicaid due to opposition from the governor and many state legislators. But for many middle-class Louisiana families, more high-quality insurance options and new federal tax credits will be available next year.

Steve Spires, policy analyst

Louisiana Budget Project

Baton Rouge