It was widely reported in a variety of news outlets yesterday that the new national healthcare plan, or Obama Care, is going to be revised for businesses.
The initial plan called for any business with 50 or more employees to be required to provide affordable healthcare for their respective employees (www.ap.com). The business owners, according to reports, were very concerned about their ability to provide healthcare to their employees. They were also concerned about the perception that the government would not be ready to offer this program in the near future to their employees.
Furthermore, the new national healthcare law also stipulates that the business would be required to pay a penalty to the IRS of $2,000 per employee that did not get health care coverage under the new system (www.ap.com). Many business owners, especially small business owners with more than 50 employees, have deep concerns about this penalty system which is built into the new law.
The IRS has been widely quoted on AP, and other news sites as stating that they believed that they would have created $4 billion in penalties for the healthcare requirements by the end of 2014.
A Timely Revision
Whether it is due to the concerns of business owners, or issues with preparedness of the national healthcare program, the Obama Administration announced yesterday a revision to the law which will delay the business healthcare requirement until 2015.
The timing of the change to the law is seen by the Republicans as an admission that the national healthcare program is not ready for widespread roll out. There are others who feel it is a concession to the economy because the healthcare requirement for businesses is seen by many to have a negative impact on job creation.
The timing is also very political and that is just reality. President Obama pushed the start time on the healthcare requirement of the national healthcare plan to 2015 so that it is beyond the 2014 mid-term elections. If the President had delayed the start time to some point in 2014 and the business leaders reacted badly that would mean a lot of lost Congressional seats for the Democrats that supported “Obama Care”.
It should also be noted though that this fall, October 1st is the target date, the national health care plan is slated for introduction for citizens in the market for individual health insurance coverage. This includes those who are unemployed, self-employed, or who otherwise have been unable to get coverage for any number of reasons under the old healthcare system.
Impact of the Change
My own feelings are that the penalty to the businesses is a mistake that was inserted into the law to give it some teeth. The President may be trying to buy some time to introduce some dialogue to revise that part of the law.
The Republicans feel that the penalty for the businesses is bad and if the President tries to revise it, then Republican leader Eric Cantor was quoted as saying that the whole law should be repealed (www.ap.com).
This revision will also bring the national healthcare debate back to the forefront here in the coming months. I also believe that the individual mandate section of the law will be discussed again, which requires all Americans to get healthcare coverage whether they want it or not, or be assessed a fine by the government.
In my opinion, the law let the big healthcare companies off the hook, many of them are driving up premiums now in anticipation of the start of the national program. Many insurance carriers are also revising the terms of their lower cost plans or dropping some lower cost plans entirely. Then, when the national plan rolls out, the public will be forced into higher priced plans.
The law for the new plan is great in theory because it provides healthcare to those who could not get coverage in the past. However, in reality the program has a lot of issues. The independent insurance review board in Ohio recently tested the effect of Obama Care on the healthcare insurance premiums for people looking to get individual healthcare coverage. This group would be those unemployed, or part time workers not eligible for benefits through an employer, or another group ineligible in the current plan.
The results of this investigative report were telling: the Ohio review found that the individual premium would increase an average of 85% in the new national plan from where it is today. So currently Ohio has an average individual premium of $450.00 that would increase 85%, which would make it very difficult for the average person to afford coverage.
I am all for healthcare coverage especially for those who have no other means of getting coverage, but it has to be affordable, and under the Obama Care law it is not going to be. I think that the President wants to achieve that goal as well, but this law as it currently stands appears to have many pitfalls to it.
I have read numerous reports about the large corporations being essentially let off the hook too because they can offer healthcare options that would meet the formula for “affordability” under the new Obama Care system, yet would have very high monthly premiums. I read a report in reference to companies like large fast food providers who have full time workers making minimum wage, and the affordable plans would cost almost $1,000 per month within the constructs of the new Obama care law. That is not affordable to someone making $7.50 per hour.
This issue is a very important one for our country so as we celebrate our Independence Day tomorrow, I would like to know: What do all of you think about the revision in the healthcare law for businesses? What do you think about the information I put forth in this post?
I wish all of you a Happy 4th of July, but I think the President and our country will be having more discussions about the healthcare system in the weeks and months to come. That is what is so great about our country that we can have these discussions.