5 Ways You May Not Realize Obamacare Is Hurting Americans
We’re back to talking about Obamacare, as if there hasn’t been enough turmoil and debate surrounding President Obama’s oftentimes confusing, and even more often problematic, health-care plan.
Obamacare has been a major subject of interest in the news, once again, thanks to an impending Supreme Court ruling on one piece of the Affordable Care Act. The ruling could, potentially, put an end to ACA subsidies in the 34 states where there is no online, state-run insurance marketplace. These states have been dependent upon the federal HealthCare.gov website as their online insurance exchange, and could ultimately be penalized for doing so — all because a section of the Affordable Care Act may have been incorrectly worded.
While some people are outraged by the prospect of losing their Obamacare subsidies, others have come to realize (or known for a long time) that Obamacare wasn’t that great to begin with. In fact, there are some surprising ways in which it is actually putting, or will soon put, many Americans at an unfair disadvantage in the insurance marketplace:
1. It penalizes you for being married.
Should you get divorced to save money on insurance? Obamacare has made that a valid question. Married couples without kids that earn over 400 percent of the federal poverty level, or $62,040 cannot receive insurance subsidies under Obamacare. They make “too much” money. Unmarried, this same couple could bring in over $91,000 total, and still receive subsidies in the state of New York. Subsidy eligibility is calculated using a complex and convoluted formula that factors in the federal poverty line, the size of a family, and the cost of the insurance plans available in each state marketplace. The complexity of these calculations makes it difficult for people to realize that they they are actually being shortchanged for something as innocent as their marital status.
2. Premiums Will Likely Go Up … Substantially.
Not enough healthy people are enrolled in Obamacare. Even The New York Times will tell you that the rate of enrollment seems to be slowing after the initial rush when HealthCare.gov first rolled out (which was an ordeal for many in and of itself). Insurance rates cannot hold steady when the population of insured is weighted towards older patients with chronic health conditions. The “desirable” population that would stabilize rates − the 18-to-34 demographic − would need to comprise 40 percent of enrollees; but this demographic only constitutes 28 percent, according to The Washington Examiner. Rate hikes would only make Obamacare more costly for millions. These potential rate hikes seem particularly likely as many major health insurers ask to raise rates by as much as 36 percent.
3. People Are Getting Turned Away by Physicians.
Under Obamacare, Medicaid reimbursement rates to physicians were expanded for 2013 and 2014. That was great…back then. Now, the dust has settled, the sparkle has faded, and physicians are now receiving about 56 percent of what private health insurance would pay. This means more doctors are reluctant to take patients with Medicaid, and more individuals are ending up in already crowded emergency rooms where waits are ever-lengthening. The theory that Obamacare's expansion of Medicaid coverage would mean fewer ER visits was just that: a theory. It ultimately had the opposite result.
4. Hospitals Are Becoming Conglomerates, Removing Consumer Choice and Competition.
Obamacare created ACOs, or “accountable care organizations,” that essentially encourage collaboration between healthcare providers by creating fiscal incentives to do so. They are paid by Medicare, based upon the size of the coalition formed. In response, hospitals have begun to merge to manage larger populations. They have also acquired physician practices that were unable to sustain themselves under Obamacare pay cuts. Not only does this eliminate the freedom of choice and a healthy dose of competition; it also enables hospitals to charge more. There's no system under Obamacare to keep this market in check.
5. It Hurts the Job Market and Economy.
We will see the full effect of Obamacare on the job market unfold over time. As of now, government jobs data indicates that low-wage workers are putting in substantially fewer hours, quite probably as a result of Obamacare’s employer mandate. This mandate fines employers thousands of dollars for each person not covered by insurance, putting a heavy financial burden on these companies. In turn, the companies appear to have cut employee hours, and are poised to continue to do so into 2016 as financial penalties rise. Even part-time workers have cut back, albeit by choice. Obamacare offers more subsidies for those who work less (and in turn earn less), essentially rewarding a lack of productivity.
The Supreme Court ruling, expected at the end of June, will likely have a big impact on Obamacare. It will either serve as a major victory, or a meaningful defeat. Unfortunately, no matter what the Supreme Court decides, Obamacare has put millions of Americans in a position to be punished. If Obamacare wins, it will continue to bring harm to people’s wallets, employment opportunities, and access to quality healthcare. If Obamacare loses thanks to the poor wording of the policy, millions will be without subsidized insurance that Obamacare had initially made them reliant upon. Either way, a policy that President Obama once lauded as something that “works beyond a shred of doubt” will ultimately penalize far too many unsuspecting Americans. The President probably shouldn't have been so confident.