When the Affordable Care Act (ACA) kicks in January 1, 2014, working families likely won’t get much financial help from employers or the government.

The ACA requires employers with 51 or more employees to offer health insurance coverage to employees.  To meet the affordability test, employers can not ask employees to contribute more than 9.5 percent of their household income towards the cost of “self-only” health insurance. An employer that meets this requirement avoids penalties imposed by the new law.

The problem is that this will shift a very large financial burden to employees with families.  Recall that in 2014, everyone in the U.S. must purchase health insurance -including a spouse and children.  An employer with more than 50 employees will cover most of the cost of the health insurance for an employee, but will likely pay little or nothing of the cost of coverage for family members (dependents.)

Worse yet, the dependents of an employee whose employer offers affordable health insurance coverage, will NOT be eligible to receive a subsidy for their health insurance. The government reported this policy in recent IRS guidance.  In response the New York Times and other newspapers,  described the problem this will create for famlies and urged a change.

Unless an employer decides to contribute a portion of the premium for dependent coverage (and employers get no credit for this contribution under the ACA) then employees will shoulder the entire financial burden of health insurance for their family.  While this could be a shocking revelation for many Americans – it is the reality that most currently face.