This is the fourteenth in a series of articles about health care reform.
On April 15, 2011, President Obama signed into law H.R. 1473, the Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011. The bill included a provision to repeal the "free choice voucher" portion of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (the Act).
Under the Act, beginning in 2014, an employer sponsoring a subsidized health plan that provided minimum essential benefits would have been required to provide certain employees with a voucher to purchase health insurance coverage on the state-based insurance exchanges, rather than participating in the employer's plans. Such an employer would have had to provide the voucher to an employee for whom the cost for employer-based coverage was between 8% and 9.8% of household income, and whose household income was not more than 400% of the federal poverty level.
It had been argued that the requirement to offer free choice vouchers would result in adverse selection for employer plans—the vouchers would presumably have been popular with healthy, younger individuals who might have been able to purchase policies on the state exchange at a cost lower than the cost of their employer plan. In any case, the repeal of the free choice voucher requirement represents a significant change in the employer cost-sharing provisions of the Act.