Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Impact of ObamaCare

The effect of one thing upon another.

 Definition of impact

Today, January 1, 2014, is a good time to examine the impact of ObamaCare.   By March 23, 2014, it will have been in effect for four years. It has lasted longer than World War II.  It has become the number one political issue and will remain so until the November midterms and beyond.  It, and other entitlement programs, are the fastest growing component of our $17 trillion national debt. Its complexity has created confusion, uncertainty,  and controversy.   Its existence has brought into question the limits of government intervention into the lifes of its citizens.  Current poll averages indicate that 53% of Americans disapprove of the law while 38% favor it. 

In summary, the impact of ObamaCare has been profound, far greater and far deeper  than any other domestic program, including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. It effects every American,  every group of Americans,   every American employer, in different ways, at different times.  It has brought into question and into focus the relative value and merits of collective centralized government versus individual decentralized government at local and state levels. It raises questions of government controls vis a vis individual liberties. 

ObamaCare was designed so that its most popular  features – allowing young adults to remain under their parents’ plans up to 25,  ending co-payments for preventive care,  closing the “doughnut hole” for prescription drug coverage,  would be introduced immediately.  

Its promises were that it would lower costs for the average family by $2500 by 2016,  would force insurers to cover everyone with pre-existing conditions starting in 2014,  would allow people to keep their doctor, health plan, and hospital affiliations, and would cover or subsidize most of the uninsured and underinsured, by among things, vastly expanding the Medicaid population and those dependent on government.

What was not said, or soft-pedaled, was that, come 2014, the employer and individual mandate would kick in.   The employer mandate was delayed  until after the November 2014 elections because of its negative effect on hiring and its creation of a part-time work force.  

But in 2014, ObamaCare’s unpopular features can no longer be delayed.   

They include:

·         the individual mandate, which requires every individual to buy health insurance or pay a penalty;
·         a $60 billion tax on health insurers, which will increase premiums and be passed onto consumers; 

·          health plan cancellations largely  because of the cost of supplying  ten comprehensive  “essential benefits”  for all health plans;

·         higher premiums and deductibles for the young and healthy to offset higher risks and costs associated with older and sicker Americans;

·         the  mandatory vast switching from current health plans to government –approved health exchange plans which in general will have higher premiums with deductibles in the $5000 and up range and lower payments for physicians and hospitals;

·         the narrowing of networks by insurers, who seeking to keep costs down while providing a government-required richer benefits, will cause many Americans to lose their doctor, their health plan, and their preferred hospital  affiliation;

·         the ACA’s $200 billion of cuts for 14 million senior citizens in Medicare Advantage plans  with limits on doctors they can see,  increased cost sharing, and higher premiums.

Add to these factors, which are certain  to be politically unpopular,  the troubles of the rollout; the drumbeat of stories of those who have seen their premiums skyrocket, their benefits shrink, their choices of provider narrow,   and the failure to ObamaCare to disclose what was in the law all along, namely. the inevitability of plan cancellation and dropping of doctors and health plans,  and you begin to realize the political  impact of Obamacare.  

The rubber, as they say in the streets of America, is about to hit the road, and we shall see if paving the road with good intentions satisfies most Americans given the cracks in the pavement and the potholes along the way.

Tweet:   The full impact of  ObamaCare’s benefits and costs will become evident in 2014 when it begins to become fully implemented.

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