Editorial: Hoppy Kercheval: Obamacare reality sets in
08/23/2013 - WV Metro News
WASHINGTON, DC - The mantra by President Obama during his campaign for passage of the Affordable Health Care Act was that nothing would change for Americans who were happy with their insurance.
“No matter what you’ve heard, if you like your doctor or health care plan, you can keep it,” the President said in his weekly radio address, August 15, 2009.
And he repeated one form or another of that promise—and make no mistake, it was a promise—as he crisscrossed the country, building support.
It was a comforting message.
Eighty-five percent of Americans have health insurance, through their employer, Medicare or Medicaid. No doubt a majority are reasonably satisfied with their coverage, otherwise the President wouldn’t have been so persistent in his assurances.
But once Obamacare became law, employers began calculating the impact of the some 18,000 pages of rules and regulations, and what we’re finding out now is that the much-heralded promise was empty.
Here are a few of the most recent examples:
–The University of Virginia has decided that because of rising health care costs and the “looming fees and taxes connected with federal health reform,” spouses of UVA employees who have coverage available through their own employers will be dropped January 1st.
–UPS announced an identical measure. About 15,000 spouses now on the UPS plan will have to get insurance from their own employer. The package delivery company said the decision was due to the costs associated with ACA.
–The Nevada State AFL-CIO passed a resolution this week condemning what it called the “unintended consequences” of ACA. The labor union predicted the law will lead to “the destruction of the 40-hour work week, higher taxes and force union members onto more costly plans.”
This is just the beginning. A study by the national consulting group Towers Watson found that 60 percent of large employers believe they will be hit with an excise tax starting in 2018 because they offer so-called “Cadillac” health plans, unless they make significant changes.
As a result, “to combat the increase in employee health care costs and avoid the excise tax, nearly 40 percent of employers will be changing their plan designs for 2014,” the report said.
The University of Virginia is a perfect example of what Towers Watson found.
“Ironically, by providing generous benefits, the University becomes exposed to a federal excise tax known as the ‘Cadillac tax,’” said the Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Susan Carkeek.”
We don’t know yet whether the Affordable Care Act will work, whether the complex and expensive medical delivery system in this country will be better or worse in a few years. Certainly Americans who currently can’t afford insurance or are denied coverage because of pre-existing conditions will benefit.
But the rest of America, some 250-million people, were reassured over and over by the President that neither their insurance nor their doctor would change. We’re finding out now that, in fact, everything is going to change for everybody.