WASHINGTON, November 9, 2013 — When President Obama was selling the Affordable Care Act to America, he said that under this new law, uninsured people would have good quality health insurance. He stressed that the other 85 percent of us who had health care plans could keep our plans if we so desired.
Not one Democratic senator or representative who voted to pass the law read it before voting (not one Republican voted for it), but the president assured them that their constituents would support it.
The reality is not exactly what was promised, either to voters or to Democrats in Congress.
A month into the implementation of the law, millions of Americans have already lost their policies. They are being offered policies that provide more coverage than they want or need, with hefty price increases. The president offered a sort of apology for this, but there is little or nothing that can be done now to fix it. And it will get worse.
Most of those who have individual plans — except for those with “Cadillac” policies — will be forced to accept new, more expensive policies. Already there are horror stories from people who have seen their monthly premiums increase by 30 percent or more. The president says that the 15 million or so who bought their insurance in the private market represent a small portion of the population, only 5 percent, but he hears them and will do what he can to ease their pain. There is little that he can do, though. And what about the rest of us?
The president says that the 15 percent of the people on Medicare will continue to have their care. That may be true, but many of them have supplemental plans. Those plans are at high risk for cancellation or for heavy premium hikes. These fixed income people who own them will have to accept higher higher deductibles and copays. Combine this with the Medicare funding cuts, and these people will be worse off.
The 27 percent of the population who currently receive a Medicaid benefit will see no changes in their plans for now. However as more people sign onto Medicaid and strain both federal and state budgets, the benefits will have to be reduced, and their plans will likely worsen.
But still President Obama assures us that the 50 percent of Americans who receive their health care plans through their employers will see no change. That is not completely accurate. Many companies will find that it is cheaper to pay a fine than it is to provide health insurance. Eventually a large number of employees will lose their coverage and be forced onto the exchanges, where they will find worse insurance at higher prices.
Still other employers will simply choose to give their employee the amount they intended to spend on health care as direct compensation. The employee can then go onto the exchange and pick the policies they want. The result will be higher out-of pocket costs for employees.
The president says that many of these people will receive subsidies from the government and will not have to pay more for their insurance plans. That’s only partially true. While some people will receive a government subsidy, the subsidy will have to be paid by taxpayers; people who earn enough to pay for their health care coverage will see their taxes rise in order for the government to pay the subsidies.
About two thirds of the 15 percent of Americans who did not have health insurance prior to the passage of the ACA will benefit. The remaining 85 percent of us will generally see lower quality care and higher prices. Since ours is supposed to be a system for the majority (without infringing on anyone’s basic rights) this entire health care plan is as un-American as can be.
If you like your plan, you can’t keep it. Period.
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