With the beginning of the new year, more of the provisions of Democrats’ massive, unpopular health care law are going into effect and news reports are, again, popping up illustrating all the negative impacts on health care this ill-conceived law will have.
The New York Times reported last week, “Health insurance companies across the country are seeking and winning double-digit increases in premiums for some customers, even though one of the biggest objectives of the Obama administration’s health care law was to stem the rapid rise in insurance costs for consumers. Particularly vulnerable to the high rates are small businesses and people who do not have employer-provided insurance and must buy it on their own. In California, Aetna is proposing rate increases of as much as 22 percent, Anthem Blue Cross 26 percent and Blue Shield of California 20 percent for some of those policy holders, according to the insurers’ filings with the state for 2013.”
Politico adds today, “If you work for a small business, your next health insurance premium may give you sticker shock. Many of the small-business and individual insurance policies are working the health reform law’s 2014 fees into their 2013 bills, contributing to double-digit premium increases for some people. All those new consumer benefits packed into the health reform law — birth control without a co-pay, free preventive care and limits on when insurers can turn down a customer — had to be paid for somehow.”
“Insurers say they have no choice but to increase premiums to cover those costs,” Politico writes. “But it’s hitting pocketbooks sooner than some people expected, and that’s causing controversy. Everyone, even many of the law’s supporters, admit premiums are going to go up under the health law — although many people will get subsidies to help pay for coverage. Many of the costs — and the priciest benefits — were pushed beyond the 2012 election to 2014. But if the public revolts when they see 10 percent,15 percent or 20 percent rate hikes, already shaky support for the health law could suffer. . . . Now, insurers are being proactive, arguing the health law is driving the increase in prices. ‘There’s a massive new health insurance tax that starts in 2014,’ said Robert Zirkelbach, a spokesman for industry group America’s Health Insurance Plans. ‘For policies that are sold in 2013 and extend into next year, there’s going to be taxes imposed. … As a result, like all taxes, they will be reflected in premiums charged.’”
Meanwhile, the health care law is already resulting in cutbacks at health providers and is likely to hurt job creation in the years to come. In a story titled, “Delaware Hospice lays off 52 workers amid federal changes,” the Delaware News Journalwrites, “Delaware Hospice’s Chief Executive Officer Susan Lloyd said Wednesday the nonprofit healthcare provider has laid off 52 workers in a restructuring necessitated by shrinking federal reimbursements. The job cuts, which carve significantly into the organizations 400-member staff, impact jobs in all departments in Delaware, and in Delaware and Chester counties in Pennsylvania, Lloyd said. . . . . Lloyd said the cuts were unavoidable and represent a national trend of providers adapting to changes in health care reimbursement. . . . ‘The decision was not made lightly and it is a direct result of a consequential decline in census and the need to position the organization to meet additional changes and challenges that the hospice industry anticipates with health care reform.’”
And USA Today reported recently, “Many businesses plan to bring on more part-time workers next year, trim the hours of full-time employees or curtail hiring because of the new health care law, human resource firms say. Their actions could further dampen job growth, which already is threatened by possible federal budget cutbacks resulting from the tax increases and spending cuts known as the fiscal cliff. ‘It will have a negative impact on job creation’ in 2013, says Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics. Under the Affordable Care Act, businesses that employ at least 50 full-time workers — or the equivalent, including part-time workers — must offer health insurance to staffers who work at least 30 hours a week. Employers that don’t provide coverage must pay a $2,000-per-worker penalty, excluding the first 30 employees.”
Republicans warned about all these consequences as Obamacare was being debated, but Democrats and President Obama ignored them and the disapproval of the American people. In December 2009, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said, “It’s abundantly clear that the more Americans learn about this bill, the more they oppose it. And now we know the same goes for businesses. Businesses that can’t insure workers face stiff fines, resulting in lost wages and jobs, according to the independent Congressional Budget Office. What’s more, studies suggest that this so-called employer mandate would have a disproportionate impact on low-income, entry-level workers. At a time of [high] unemployment, we should be doing everything we can to create jobs. This bill would only lead to more lost jobs.”
And the night Democrats jammed the bill through the Senate, Leader McConnell said “[H]ere’s the reality: the Democrat bill we’re voting on tonight raises health care costs. That’s not me talking — that’s the administration’s own budget scorekeeper. It raises premiums — that’s the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office talking. It raises taxes on tens of millions of middle class Americans. . . . It forces people off the plans they have — including millions of seniors.”
This terrible legislation still needs to be repealed and replaced, but until then it will unfortunately continue to raise premiums, raise health care costs, hurt care, and hurt jobs.