Fiscal Times

Repair, Not Repeal.

That is the conundrum now over Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It appears Americans are coalescing around the idea of fixing or repairing the unpopular parts of ACA rather than repealing it. So far, the law has been rolled out with the following popular and unpopular components:

Popular

  • children stay on parents plans to age 26
  • elimination of pre-existing condition clauses
  • guarantee issue for individual policies
  • free “wellness” programs
  • subsidies based on income

Unpopular

  • individual mandate
  • emerging “narrow networks” trend
  • employer taxes (still largely unknown to the population at large)

So does repair mean…

  • richer subsidies?
  • elimination of the individual AND employer mandate?
  • regulation of carriers to offer more robust choices?
  • elimination of employer taxes?
  • repeal of the “cadillac” tax?

Reading the law and seeing how the financing of it is projected, it seems more unpopular items need to be implemented. The law’s taxes, mandates and medicare cost reductions will not be popular, but are essential. If you see another way of stabilizing this law over the long run, please let me know. Perhaps a single payer system? Maybe Google will come to the rescue.

To read more on this topic, Americans want to Fix, Not Repeal Obamacare, or Politifact’s Truth-o-Meter on Which is more unpopular: Obamacare or repealing Obamacare?

More Changes / Delays to the Employer Mandate

3 Employer Take-a-ways

The administration announced late Monday yet another change-up to one of the major focal points embedded in the Affordable Care Act  –  the employer mandate. Here are the three biggest aspects of the announcement that employers of all sizes need to know:

Employers with 100+ Employees

Employers with 100 or more workers will only have to cover 70% (down from 95%) of eligible employees in 2015 to avoid fines. The original 95% benchmark now goes into effect in 2016 and beyond.

Employers with 50 – 100 Employees

Employers in this category get a reprieve of sorts through 2015 as the mandate is delayed altogether for another year. As things stand today, they must begin offering coverage to eligible employees in 2016 in order to avoid fines associated with the new law.

Employers with fewer than 50 Employees

Under 50 employers (already exempt from the employer mandate to provide coverage) will now be exempt in 2015 and each year going forward from the reporting requirements they were subject to as originally outlined in the new law.

Despite speculation by many, as of yet there have been no changes or reprieves to the individual mandate that went into effect on January 1 of this year. It remains unchanged.

For more detailed information on Monday’s announcement see articles that appeared in the Washington Post and Fiscal Times

For an expert analysis, read Bob Laszewski’s piece at Health Care Policy and Marketplace Review.

Target Drops PT Employee Healthcare Coverage

The debate rages on about healthcare reform and how it will impact the insurance industry. A recent article from The Fiscal Times “More Companies Dump Employee Insurance for Obamacare,” discusses how Target recently announced it has dropped insurance for part-time employees, citing changes that have to do with new healthcare laws. Target follows in the footsteps of companies like Home Depot and Trader Joe’s, who have also dumped healthcare coverage for part-time employees in order to save on healthcare costs.

The companies claim that the action ultimately benefits their part-time employees since having employer-based health insurance disqualifies them from accessing coverage and subsidies through the new health exchange.

According to a report by CNN, Trader Joe’s company officials estimated that a large majority of their part-time workforce would be eligible for plans that cost considerably less money if they purchased insurance through the new health exchange.

There are many reports of the insurance industry’s lack of optimism in regards to Obamacare and how it will ultimately impact insurance. However, Brianna Ehley, author of The Fiscal Times article cited here, writes “…industry experts say it’s too early to tell how enrollments will affect market stability and premium prices.” She closes her article pointing out administration officials also say it’s too early to tell with about three months to go in the first enrollment period and that they expect most people to wait until the last minute to sign up, as was the case in Massachusetts.

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