Signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010, Obama health care, officially known as the Affordable Care Act or by its more informal name “Obamacare,” sought to establish sweeping health-care reforms. Set to unfold over several years’ time, these changes seek to give citizens access to health care regardless of income or pre-existing conditions, among other factors. The plan continues to slowly roll out mostly on schedule, with some delays.
What benefits has the Obama health care plan offered so far?
Component of the plan delayed until 2015
Implementation of one aspect of the Affordable Care Act, the large employer requirement, has recently been delayed until 2015. When in effect, large employers with more than 50 employees will need to provide affordable insurance coverage for their employees, or face penalties.
What does Obama health care mean for you?
Although businesses (and some individuals) are worried about increased costs under Obama’s plan, proponents say that for most people, it will only be beneficial. Some benefits:
The Health Insurance Marketplace will be available for families, individuals without employer-provided insurance, and small businesses to get coverage; open enrollment begins on October 1, 2013. What individuals will pay, for example, will depend on income, family size, and out of pocket cost for private insurance, as applicable. Some citizens may qualify for free or low-cost coverage through the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) or through Medicaid. (All citizens are eligible for coverage through the Marketplace regardless of where they live.)
All plans covered through the Marketplace must offer comprehensive coverage of so-called “essential health benefits.” These include preventative care, hospitalization, doctor’s visits, prescriptions, and more.
What rights and protections exist for citizens in regard to the Obama health care law?
The Affordable Care Act (Obama health care) protects citizens in the following way:
Are there any drawbacks to Obama health care?
If it is deemed that you can afford specific coverage based upon your income level and you don’t purchase it, you may be assessed a fine of $95 or 1% of your income, whichever is greater. However, a tax credit called the Advance Premium Tax Credit is offered based upon income level (the 2013 cut off for the premium savings is $45,960 for individuals). This credit is meant to help offset the cost of premiums, and is applied directly to monthly premiums immediately, resulting in lower costs right away.
Many people are concerned how well Obama health care will actually work in reality, although conservatives for the most part believe it will be a costly disaster. Next month, the most important elements of the health care law are slated to be phased in, and according to the Washington Post, real data returns are indicating that contrary to popular belief, those who do not have employer-sponsored coverage and who are forced to buy individual coverage will not face astronomical costs to obtain coverage.
A recent analysis of the costs Americans will face with Obama health care offers the clearest picture yet of how things will be in reality. This analysis, presented by the Kaiser Family Foundation, examines how much Americans who will purchase coverage from exchanges will face in regards to cost for individual coverage. Much like coverage obtained from health insurance providers in past years, the bottom line is that the cost to an individual will vary depending on a number of factors including income, age, health issues, geographical location, and other factors. The report concludes that across the U.S. premiums will vary substantially, however overall the costs will be lower than many anticipated with Obama health care.
One part of the report stated that the Congressional Budget Office’s latest projections indicate that across the nation, the average premium for an individual who is 40 years old and who chooses the lowest cost silver plan would spend approximately $320 per month for coverage. In fact, the report goes on to say that of the eighteen areas examined in the analysis, fifteen of those would offer premiums lower than $320 per month. It seems that maybe, just maybe, the cost of Obama health care may not be as astronomical as many initially thought.
What about competition from private insurance companies, what will the impact be on premium costs? According to the article, supporters of Obama health care have argued that the competition among private insurance companies and exchanges will keep the costs under control. In fact, the Kaiser report indicated in most of the regions that were studied, four or more insurers will be competing for customers, which will result in private insurance companies offering coverage at competitive rates in order to prevent customers moving into the exchanges.
Ultimately, the Kaiser report strongly supports the notion that the health coverage options under Obama health care will not place unexpected burdens on the federal Treasury, nor will it be so costly that premiums would “break the bank” for many individuals, regardless of medical issues or pre-existing conditions. Still, not all agree with the report, saying that the data was taken from the District and 17 states, which means the information is not fully complete. When it comes to Obama health care and its success – or lack thereof – only time will tell.
It is expected that the Supreme Court will make a decision this month regarding Obama healthcare; while there are 4 potential outcomes, you can be sure that whichever outcome it is, you haven’t heard the last of this hotly debated health care law. Regardless of what happens, it’s highly likely that we will see more lawsuits, more congressional battles next year, and more state actions taken. How do you stand on Obama healthcare? Are you for the law in its entirety, against it, for the individual mandate, or against it? Here are a few interesting takes on what could happen depending on the decision of the Supreme Court later this month.
Obama healthcare law totally upheld. Opponents will not go away, according to Cato Institute health policy director Michael Cannon. If a decision is made by the court to uphold the law in its entirety, you can be sure the flood gates will open to lawsuits, as well as political and legislative action. Legislative attacks will resume by Republicans in Congress.
The entire healthcare law struck down. If the courts decide to completely kill the Obama healthcare law, confusion and chaos could ensue, partly because certain aspects of the bill have already been enacted. One question many have if the healthcare law is struck down is whether the effect of the Supreme Court’s ruling would be retroactive or prospective. According to non-partisan Kaiser Family Foundation’s V.P. of special projects Larry Levitt, a mess would ensue if the law is killed in the court. Levitt states that anything that has already happened is kind of water under the bridge in a general sense.
Uphold Obama healthcare, strike down the individual mandate. Most feel this is the scenario most likely to unfold, and huge complications would be presented. Why would this create complications? Because insurance companies would be required under the expansive provisions of this law to cover individuals who have pre-existing conditions, yet Americans would not be required to purchase health insurance coverage. If the healthcare law is upheld but the mandate struck down, it is estimated that premiums would increase by about 15% to 20% in the individual health insurance market, becoming ‘unworkable’ for insurance companies according to former Florida attorney general Bill McCollum.
Further provisions of Obama healthcare invalidated. In the event the mandate is struck down, lawmakers feel that if those with pre-existing conditions should no longer be protected. In this way, the future insurance market would be much like today’s, with premiums being cheaper overall, but particularly for those who are healthy and young. The huge disadvantage is that those who need coverage most, the elderly and those in bad health, would suffer in terms of quality of coverage.
Regardless of how the Supreme Court rules on Obama healthcare, there is one certainty: it will not end the discussion and disagreements. This is a topic that is likely to be heated for quite some time to come.
As Republican support for Obama health care continues to grow, southern states continue to oppose it; in fact, governors from some of the unhealthiest states have voiced their opinions about the unpopular health care plan, including Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina who said “Not in South Carolina. We will not expand Medicaid on President Obama’s watch. We will not expand Medicaid ever.”
According to a recent news article at Fox News, Obama health care, our president’s signature domestic accomplishment, remains highly unpopular for many reasons. As opponents of health care reform had predicted, health care premiums are going nowhere but up. Media reports all around the country are highlighting the fact that Obama health care had led to companies cutting back on hiring new employees, and forced many citizens into working part-time not because they want to, but because there are so few companies hiring full-time workers.
In just a few months, state-based health insurance exchanges are scheduled to be up and running; however, very few people believe that the exchanges will function properly. In fact, news reports reveal that the federal bureaucrat in control of implementing the exchanges recently said that now he is desperately hoping that the implementation of health exchanges won’t provide “a Third World experience,” instead of the “world-class experience” industry officials had hoped to provide.
Expanding Medicaid insurance rolls is an anchor of Obama health care; however very few governors in the Confederacy and Civil War border states region which run from Virginia to Texas are endorsing the deal, according to the Huffington Post. In fact, Bill Haslam, governor of Tennessee, was the last governor of the Deep South to add his name to the opposition’s side.
While governors in southern states have their own ideas about Obama health care and Medicaid, until something is done there will be many Americans left without coverage because their salaries go above what is required to qualify for Medicaid. On the flip side, the same people do not make enough money to qualify for subsidies to purchase insurance through the state exchanges. Unfortunately, numerous public health studies which have been conducted bear out the fact that it is this same group of people who suffer most from health issues related to diabetes, obesity, and smoking.
Under Obama health care, states were to make Medicaid available to all households with an income up to 138% of the federal poverty rate. This equates to approximately $32,000 for families of four, and $15,420 per year for individuals. While the federal government would pick up most of the tab between 2014 and 2016 for new Medicaid patients, states would pay up to 10% of the cost. The Supreme Court declared that the decision whether to expand would be left up to the states – and southern states, at the moment, are not willing to do that. Drew Altman, leader at the Kaiser Family Foundation, predicted that over time, the staunch opposition will wane.
It seems that Obama health care is already having an impact on some industries, as some are already shifting from full-time workers to part-time employees as 2014 quickly approaches. Recently, it was announced that Darden Restaurants, Inc. will experiment with shifting full-time employees to part-time status; this change is because of Obama health care, and the impending health benefit requirements which will go into effect in 2014. Darden Restaurants owns the Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurant chains.
Beginning just over one year from now, companies with 50 or more employees who are full-time will be required to offer workers basic health benefits; if they do not comply, they will risk paying a fine. Although studies which have been conducted demonstrate that Obama health care increases health care costs for larger companies only slightly, many large employers still fear the health care law and what it will mean for their companies.
So, what does this mean for Obama health care? It’s still a bit early to tell, but the executive director of the Deloitte Center for Health Statistics, Paul Keckley, who notes that it may be necessary to implement follow-up legislation to make sure that companies cannot avoid providing coverage by shifting more employees to part-time, said that, “There’s not a company in those industries that aren’t looking at this.”
McDonald’s has already been considering the impact of Obama health care on its bottom line. Just this summer, a conference call between investors and McDonald’s Corp. Chief Financial Officer Peter Bensen noted that the popular fast-food chain was essentially analyzing the numerous factors which will impact health care costs; this included the number of full-time workers employed by the company.
Even before Obama health care came into play, employers have looked for ways to cut employees’ benefits and increase contributions to health plans. In many cases, companies only have to cut 8 hours from an employee’s total work hours for a one-week period for those employees to be considered part-time.
According to news reports, Darden has engaged in anti-labor practices in the past. Recently, a labor activist group sued Darden for allegedly circumventing the federal minimum wage; supposedly, the company was paying as little as $2.13 per hour which was said to be a “tip credit wage.”
It’s very apparent that companies put profits over employees’ well-being and satisfaction, however Obama health care has many large companies and corporations very worried over the costs they will face to provide health coverage for employees – or the fines they will be forced to pay. Between the new health care law and companies working vigorously to protect their own bottom lines, it looks as though the employees could be “hung out to dry” once again.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Obama health care as it’s commonly become known as, is a law that will greatly effect small businesses come 2014, when small companies must choose to keep the coverage they currently have on employees, or use the health insurance exchanges. For most small businesses, the subject of Obama health care is one that is confusing and complicated, to say the least. Just over a year until many of these changes will take place, many small business owners still find the changes that will be implemented over time about as clear as mud.
Here are a few answers to questions about Obama health care and how exchanges will work.
Through exchanges, will health insurance rates go up? Yes. Over the first few years, premiums will actually increase because the ACA does nothing to reduce medical costs on which the premiums are based immediately. Over time, rates should go down substantially.
If you are a business owner with fewer than 25 employees, should you cancel your current employee coverage prior to 2014? It all depends on the average income of your employees and the market. For instance, if you are a retail business owner with employees who are mostly low-income and will qualify for premium subsidies in the exchange, it may be more beneficial to cancel your employee healthcare plan before 2014. However, if your employees earn a moderate income and are in a field where it is more difficult for you to replace or train staff, it may be beneficial to keep your present plan. This will help entice your employees to stay.
Obama health care isn’t all bad for small business, and in fact some provisions are good. For instance, businesses with fewer than 25 full-time employees who pay at least 50% of the total premiums in order to qualify for a tax credit will not see that go away. As it currently stands, those employers currently get a tax credit of up to 35%, which will increase to 50% in 2014.
State-based exchanges will eventually mean that smaller companies can compete with the bigger companies, as they will have “pooled” purchasing power, meaning more affordable coverage.
Ultimately, there are advantages and disadvantages for small businesses when it comes to Obama health care. Many business owners feel that it will result in a bigger unemployment rate, as the biggest expense of all for the small business owner is the labor force.
Even though the individual mandate was upheld by the Supreme Court in June of this year, many believe that the political debate over Obama health care is far from over. The opinion of many is that throughout the process to reform health care, the small businesses have been completely overlooked. It’s apparent that many people are still in the dark when it comes to the future of health care and affordable health insurance. Unfortunately, it seems that small business owners may be the ones affected most by the changes in a negative way. No matter what happens, no doubt it will go down in history as one of the most debated political issues for generations.
Even though the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate portion of Obama health care recently, millions of uninsured individuals around the nation are still not sure what it means for them. It seems as though Obama
Why are so many still left in the dark regarding Obama health care, even though it has been upheld? Governors of several states have not yet determined how to proceed in their own states regarding new insurance exchanges and the expansion of Medicaid, parts of the health care law that falls under their control. Governors of Colorado, Oklahoma and Wyoming tell citizens they’re crunching numbers in an effort to determine the best course of action for residents. Millions of people keep thinking they will finally have a firm answer on Obama health care, only to find there are more obstacles in the way.health care is still something many are muddling through, and that will continue to be unclear for months or perhaps even years to come.
While the Supreme Court did uphold the individual mandate requiring people to either buy insurance or pay a fine (or be taxed, however you want to view it), Obama’s plan was undercut by the justices making it possible for states to opt out of Medicaid expansion, which is government run. In states that decide against the Medicaid expansion, those who do not have health care insurance will not be fined, according to a statement made by the Obama administration recently. In short, this essentially means that.
Essentially, Republican governors are forgoing the expansion of Medicaid, claiming that because the program is already under-funded the cost is weighing heavy on their budgets. However, in the first three years the law covers the entire cost, then drops to 90% with states responsible for covering only 10% of the cost. Proponents argue that the Medicaid expansion component is a great deal, but many governors disagree. As usual, Obama health care seems to be a topic of constant debate, leaving those who do not have health insurance uncertain of what the future holds.
By January 14 of 2014, states will either offer health insurance through state-run exchanges, or default to federal control under Obama health care. As the Boston Herald says, American consumers will be the guinea pigs in the experiment to see whether the “feds” or state will do the best job in getting those individuals in the U.S. who currently do not have health insurance coverage.
According to the article, at the current time the U.S. is fairly evenly split between states that defaulted to federal control (mostly Republican-led states), and those which chose to have state-run exchanges (mostly Democrat-led states). The states which have chosen to “default” to federal control essentially do not want to participate in Obama health care.
Purchasing health insurance isn’t an easy task for individuals who don’t have the money; the article goes on to say that under Obama health care, buying coverage through exchanges will make the experience similar to shopping on sites like Amazon.com. Additionally, it is predicted that individuals who are not covered by their employers will flock to the health exchanges, and that the government will assist those in the middle-class with payment of premiums in many cases.
Obama health care will also send low-income individuals who cannot buy coverage in the direction of Medicaid and other programs considered “safety nets.”
Robert Krughoff, president of Consumers’ Checkbook, says that essentially, the health care exchange component of Obama health care is “an experiment between the feds and the states, and among the states themselves.” Krughoff has serious doubts that either will make the selection of health care coverage as easy as choosing a hotel and travel package.
Come October 1st of this year under Obama health care, consumers will being signing up regardless of whether all of the kinks get worked out. Coverage will take effect January 1, 2014, the same day that two other provisions of Obama health care take effect – the rule that insurers must provide coverage regardless of individuals’ health or pre-existing conditions, and the mandate that nearly all Americans have health coverage or face a penalty.
So far, 26 states have defaulted to the feds, and 23 states in addition to Washington, D.C. have chosen either state-run exchanges or are partnering with the Obama administration to run their own markets. Already, states which have chosen to set up their own exchanges are taking very different paths; while some have chosen to open their markets to nearly all insurance providers and let consumers choose which one they prefer, others have chosen to “drive bargains” by offering only a limited selection of insurance providers.
According to a recent AP poll, 63% of Americans prefer state-run exchanges versus 32% who would rather yield to federal control. Spokeswoman for Governor Rick Perry, Lucy Nashed, stated that “Texas is not interested in being a subcontractor to Obamacare.”
It will be interesting to watch over the next year to see how Obama health care fares in regard to health exchanges, and the differences between states which choose their own state-run markets, and those which default to the feds. Will choosing insurance coverage really be as easy as going to Amazon.com and buying a book? Only time will tell. One thing is certainly clear; the confusion doesn’t seem to be subsiding, but hopefully as the changes are implemented it will become easier for Americans to understand, choose, and afford the coverage they need.
Roughly 25% of the U.S. population have benefited over the past year because of a federal law that many of those 25% despise – Obama health care. According to Bloomberg Businessweek, last year approximately one of four Americans received free medical care including flu shots, colonoscopies and mammograms.
Other bright spots thus far under Obama health care are also evident, including the fact that 2.5 million young adults under the age of 26 were able to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans. In addition, those who receive Medicare saw the gap in their prescription drug coverage begin to close as many saved over $600. While Obama health care has received a bad rap since it was signed into law on March 23, 2010, it is evident that there have been advantages.
Dr. David Longworth, chairman of the Medicine Institute at Ohio’s Cleveland Clinic, stated that “This is probably the most transformative period I’ve lived through.” As Republicans continue to fight Obama health care, consumers have clearly benefited; in fact, the health care market is being reshaped as doctors, insurers and hospitals continue to adopt new procedures and form alliances. If Obama health care remains intact, it is estimated that by the year 2018 30 million Americans who are now uninsured will be covered.
Regardless of whether Obama health care keeps going forward or is considered unconstitutional because of the mandate that Americans purchase coverage or be penalized, one thing is clear: health care may never be as it was prior to March of 2010 again.
Paul Keckley, Deloitte Center for Health Solutions executive director, believes that regardless of whether the individual mandate fails or passes, the more popular coverage improvements will remain. For instance, many children with pre-existing medical conditions are now able to get treatment regardless of insurance coverage.
Now that it’s election year and the president is involved in campaigning, what would it do to his chances of winning if the individual mandate portion of Obama health care were to be found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court? This is a question in the back of the minds of many voters – and most definitely in the mind of Barack Obama.
The cost of reverting back to how things were before Obama health care came along is likely too prohibitive for things to go back “the way they were,” so to speak. As Jonathan Gruber stated, “The early deliverables are on the way and hard to reverse.” Gruber is an economist with the Institute of Technology in Massachusetts, and was instrumental in the creation of both the 2006 health care law in Massachusetts and the Obama health care law signed in 2010.
One area of the law that is particularly promising is that doctors will be paid on an improved quality of care which results in a good outcome for the patient, rather than for x-rays, treatment, tests and other fee-for-services that have been the tradition for decades. While this may not be the case in every situation, this is how UnitedHealth Group intends to handle the issue, according to a statement the health insurer made in February.
Love it or hate it, Obama health care is a topic that is still hotly debated, and likely will be for some time to come.