Republican presidential candidates have vilified the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, at every stop in the campaign, calling the law a job killer and albatross around the necks of business owners.
Both Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have promised to repeal the law if they become president. From early in his campaign, repealing Obamacare became Senator Cruz’ signature statement.
One of the primary concerns, which was raised by the America Action Forum when the law first emerged six years ago, was that it was “fiscally dangerous, raising the risk of higher labor taxes,” and that it would end employer-based coverage. The fear was that 35 million American workers would lose their employer sponsored health insurance coverage which would create yet another taxpayer responsibility costing $1.4 trillion.
The Obama administration revised some of the employer mandates identified in the report and the predictions that employers would drop their coverage has yet to materialize.
The global benefits consultancy, Aon Hewitt, surveyed over 800 employers this year. Their study found that approximately two percent of employers “plan to discontinue sponsoring a health care benefit in the future.”
The chief innovation officer in Aon’s health and benefits practice, Jim Winkler, said, “The vast majority of employers are planning to continue offering health benefits to all or part of their employee populations. Doing so enables organizations to attract and retain talent, deliver, consistent value to employees and improve the health and productivity of the U.S. workforce.”
Although employers have not abandoned their plans en masse, one of the warnings about Obamacare has proven true: related costs have continued to rise.
The Health Reform Monitoring Survey, published by the Urban Institute’s Health Policy Center, indicated coverage under ACA marketplace has been more or less comparable to employer sponsored insurance coverage. However, the study also indicated dissatisfaction with the choice of providers and the protection their plans provide against higher medical bills.
As health insurance companies negotiate rates for the public exchanges for the next year, major insurance providers Aetna, Blue Cross and Blue Shield say the ACA plans will cost more next year. Another major provider, United Health Group, has chosen to withdraw from the marketplace altogether because they do not foresee being able to offer affordable plans in the marketplace.
Although the ACA model has brought coverage to many who previously didn’t have it, the prediction of fewer options at higher costs also has come true, as more pain is being felt by all.
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