Three Years Later, More Questions than Answers About Obamacare
Whether you're a supporter or opponent of Obamacare, on this third anniversary of President Obama's signing of the 1990-page Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, it is impossible to say that healthcare for almost every American won't change in some way.
As for America herself, it is equally hard to see how Obamacare won't permanently alter the fundamental relationship between citizen and government. Proponents of the law rarely mention this side effect. Nor do they ever talk about how every entitlement program that has ever been passed has grown in scope and cost, and that in order to fix what we already know are flaws in the law, there will be more intrusion by government into the healthcare sector of the economy to come.
The flaws, discovered after we obeyed Nancy Pelosi's diktat to pass Obamacare so we could find out what's in it, are legion. Investor's Business Daily lists a few of them in this third-anniversary op-ed:
Push millions off employer coverage. In February, the Congressional Budget Office said that 7 million will likely lose their employer coverage thanks to ObamaCare — nearly twice its previous estimate. That number could be as high as 20 million, the CBO says.
Cause premiums to skyrocket. In December, state insurance commissioners warned Obama administration officials that the law's market regulations would likely cause "rate shocks," particularly for younger, healthier people forced by ObamaCare to subsidize premiums for those who are older and sicker.
"We are very concerned about what will happen if essentially there is so much rate shock for young people that they're bound not to purchase (health insurance) at all," said California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones.
That same month, Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini said ObamaCare will likely cause premiums to double for some small businesses and individuals.
And a more recent survey of insurers in five major cities by the American Action Forum found they expect premiums to climb an average 169%.
Cost people their jobs. The Federal Reserve's March beige book on economic activity noted that businesses "cited the unknown effects of the Affordable Care Act as reasons for planned layoffs and reluctance to hire more staff."
Around the same time, Gallup reported a surge in part-time work in advance of ObamaCare's employer mandate. It found that part-timers accounted for almost 21% of the labor force, up from 19% three years ago.
Meanwhile, human resources consulting firm Adecco found that half of the small businesses it surveyed in January either plan to cut their workforce, not hire new workers, or shift to part-time or temporary help because of ObamaCare.
Cost more than promised. The Congressional Budget Office now says ObamaCare's insurance subsidies will cost $233 billion more over the next decade than it thought last year.
Be a bureaucratic nightmare. Consumers got their first glimpse of life under ObamaCare when the Health and Human Services Department released a draft insurance application form. It runs 21 pages. "Applying for benefits under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul could be as daunting as doing your taxes," the AP concluded after reviewing the form.
Leave millions uninsured. After 10 years, ObamaCare will still leave 30 million without coverage, according to the CBO. As IBD reported, that figure could be much higher if the law causes premiums to spike and encourages people to drop coverage despite the law's mandate.
We are likely to hear a euphemism over the next several months from Obamacare supporters to describe the chaos that is going to descend on America when the law is fully implemented. The word is "messy":
During a Center for American Progress seminar on Obamacare, Jeffery Crowley, a former top Obama aide who had a hand in crafting the Affordable Care Act, said “we know it’s going to be messy,” according to Washington Secrets.
“There are going to be things that come up that are unanticipated,” he explained.
A gift for understatement, that one.
A 21-page application to get subsidized insurance? What percentage of Americans can't even fill out a one-page job application correctly? Filling out the form is only half the battle. At least three federal agencies, including the IRS, are going to go through that application and determine if a citizen qualifies for a subsidy.
What could possibly go wrong?
A Kaiser poll taken this month shows that fully 67% of uninsured Americans don't have a clue what the law means for them. That same poll found that support for Obamacare had dropped to 37%. Not even Obamabots believe the law will make healthcare better.
The federal government has until October 1 to create 32 state insurance exchanges. That's the number of states that have opted out of designing and implementing their own websites that are supposed to offer various health insurance plans on that date. One of the big problems is that insurance companies haven't come up with the specific policies or priced the coverages. The industry is still trying to absorb the new rules -- already thousands of pages of regulations. Most carriers have yet to file proposed price increases in premiums -- a shock that is supposed to be eased by the aforementioned subsidies.
There are 13 states that have refused to expand Medicaid coverage to the poor. That number is likely to fall as the federal government offers the states cash so they can purchase individual policies in lieu of Medicaid coverage. Arkansas already has preliminary approval for such an arrangement. The crunch will begin to come in three years, after the federal government stops subsidizing 100% of the extra costs associated with covering millions of new consumers. Eventually, most of the extra cost will be borne by the states -- many of which are already dealing with tight budgets and soaring healthcare costs.
Consider: We don't know how many businesses will drop their insurance coverage of employees. We don't know how many full-time employees will be dropped to part time so that many businesses can get below the 50 full-time employee threshold for mandatory insurance coverage, or simply save money. We don't know how many employees will lose their jobs or how many businesses will simply go under as a result of Obamacare costs. We don't know how the state exchanges will work. We don't know how much premiums will increase. We don't know what effect Obamacare's 21 new taxes will have on the economy. We don't know how many new bureaucracies -- boards, commissions, panels, agencies -- will actually arise out of the hundreds of new regulations currently being written by bureaucrats.
How many people will make the effort to fill out a 21-page form for a subsidy? How many people will take advantage of the expanded Medicaid program? How many people will simply throw up their hands and give up trying to deal with the new law?
There are dozens of other questions that we don't have an answer to. And the fact that the Democratic Congress and President Obama didn't bother to ask these questions before they made "history" and passed this imprudent monstrosity shows just how much they care about the rest of us. Written in haste, arrogantly conceived, incomprehensibly complicated, dishonestly sold, overpromised, costs underestimated, and already administered incompetently -- the coming disruptions and chaos should teach us a lesson about government overreach.
But they won't.
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