Sean Hackbarth Sean Hackbarth
Senior Editor, Digital Content, U.S. Chamber of Commerce


July 11, 2017


Senators returned to DC to continue hammering out a health care reform bill.

As work continues, at the top of Senators’ mind should be how Americans get health insurance.

This chart from Axios, based on Kaiser Family Foundation data, shows how crucial the employer-sponsored system is for health coverage.

Axios chart: How Americans get health coverage.

Source: Axios.

According to Census Bureau data, 177 million people, 56% of the population, gets their coverage through an employer, more than any other source.

[I’m curious to know why Kaiser comes up with a lower number. Email me if you know the answer.]

Whatever the exact numbers are, Congress has to keep in mind that messing with employer-sponsored plans will have an enormous effect on peoples’ lives. Obamacare’s disruption of the individual market was what drove the desire for reform this year. But the individual market only covers 16% of Americans. Imagine the political cost if Congress causes massive disruptions to those in the employer-sponsored system.

Tampering with the employer-sponsored system, like with Obamacare’s 40% tax (Cadillac Tax) on so-called “high-cost” health plans (delayed until 2020) or taxing health benefits, is the wrong way to go. Many human resource managers believe taxing health care benefits will mean higher premiums and out-of-pocket expenses for workers. Doing so will create uncertainty and anxiety for millions of Americans.

Health care reform shouldn’t undermine how most Americans get health coverage. As we’ve seen with Obamacare, higher taxes aren’t the answer. Instead, effective reforms should come from government and the business community working together, combining their collective experience to increase access to affordable, high-quality care.

About the authors

Sean Hackbarth

Sean Hackbarth

Sean writes about public policies affecting businesses including energy, health care, and regulations. When not battling those making it harder for free enterprise to succeed, he raves about all things Wisconsin (his home state) and religiously follows the Green Bay Packers.

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