California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has unveiled a plan that would require all Californians to have health insurance coverage.
The plan includes requirements for individuals, employers, and insurers. Under the plan:
- Individuals would be responsible for securing health coverage for themselves and their children and contributing to paying for their coverage. Coverage must be substantial enough to protect families against catastrophic costs. The government would provide subsidies for low-income families.
- Employers with 10 or more employees would be required to offer health insurance. If employers with 10 or more employees offer no health coverage, they would be required to pay a fee to the state (4 percent of payroll).
- Insurers would be required to guarantee coverage so that all individuals have access to affordable products.
Schwarzenegger says the plan addresses the "hidden tax" that Californians pay to subsidize health care of the 6.5 million people without health insurance in the state.
"My proposal is a beginning," says Schwarzenegger. "I look forward to a vigorous and open debate. Everything will be on the table and I want to hear from everyone. If we have the will--and I believe that we do--we can heal our broken system."
In 2006, lawmakers in Massachusetts approved legislation that requires all residents aged 18 and older to have healthcare insurance by July 2007--unless they are unable to afford it. Massachusetts employers will pay $295 per employee to the state unless they were already making a "fair and reasonable" contribution toward health insurance.