KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Rule Issued For Small Business Health Insurance Tax Credit

The regulation sets eligibility requirements for businesses seeking tax credits to help them buy coverage for their workers. Meanwhile, a Republican House member complains about not getting information about how the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) is working.

Modern Healthcare:  IRS Issues Rule On Small-Business Health Insurance Tax Credit
The Internal Revenue Service issued a final rule on tax credits intended to make it more affordable for small businesses to buy health insurance for their employees. The rule establishes eligibility requirements for a tax credit introduced by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The credit has been available since the 2010 tax year but was implemented through IRS notices rather than formal rulemaking, according to Timothy Jost, a Washington & Lee University School of Law professor.  ... Eligible small employers are defined as those with no more than 25 full-time equivalent employees who have average annual wages of no more than $50,800 each. Employers must contribute at least 50% of the premium cost on behalf of each enrolled employee and in return, they can claim a  tax credit of 50% of the premium amount paid (Dickson, 6/27).

The Hill: Lawmaker Presses HHS For Small-Business Health Insurance Data
A top GOP lawmaker pushed the administration Friday to release enrollment data measuring the success of the Small Business Health Options Program (SHOP) under ObamaCare. Rep. Sam Graves (R-Mo.), chairman of the House Small Business Committee, issued a statement expressing frustration that the Department of Health and Human Services has repeatedly failed to provide the requested data. "It's astonishing how little information has been disclosed about a law in which the taxpayers are investing billions. What is the Administration hiding?" Graves asked (Al-Faruque, 6/27).

Also, The New York Times examines one insurer's effort to find out more about customers.

The New York Times: When A Health Plan Knows How You Shop
There may be a link between your Internet use and how often you end up in the emergency room. At least that’s one of the curious connections to emerge from a health care analysis project at the insurance division of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. ... But the insurer recently bolstered its forecasting models with details on members’ household incomes, education levels, marital status, race or ethnicity, number of children at home, number of cars and so on. ... With the addition of these household details, the insurer turned up a few unexpected correlations: Mail-order shoppers and Internet users, for example, were likelier than some other members to use more emergency services (Singer, 6/28).

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