Since 2010, the Affordable Care Act has been the law of the land for better or worse. The legislation has a whole list of policies and requirements. They are intended to make obtaining healthcare coverage financially feasible for more American citizens than had been previously covered.
Before the passing the law, many people went completely without insurance. In turn, this put a big strain on hospital emergency rooms, who are now tasked with treating these individuals. Those who needed significant medical care often spent their entire life savings just trying to get themselves better or live longer.
Often these individuals had no choice but to go bankrupt in receiving their healthcare. This was due to the insurance companies denying coverage to any of those with pre-existing health conditions. Claims were also denied to those people who had insurance for any number of reasons.
One reason is that they exceeded their annual limit for covered expenses, or required the kind of care that the companies are quick to claim as unnecessary, in order to save themselves money. The goal of the Affordable Care Act is in place to assist millions of uninsured people in getting affordable insurance coverage. In addition, it provides that low-income families and individuals get their insurance coverage through available government programs.
In the six years since enactment of the law, financial repercussions have been felt all around the United States. For many people, insurance premiums have increased, in addition to their taxes going up. Lots of businesses have implemented cost-cutting measures that have resulted in many people losing their jobs or seeing their hours get dramatically reduced.
This all questions whether the United States can really afford Obamacare. It also examines what the alternative is if the Republican-controlled Congress finally get their wish for repealing the most unpopular components of the legislation.
President-elect Donald Trump came out against the law in the past. He ran his campaign promising to repeal and replace Obamacare with something that is better. Yet, even he has cited particular areas of the Affordable Care Act to remain. That is if some of them are traced directly back to the rising costs of healthcare insurance premiums. One of these mandates is pre-existing conditions.
Under the Affordable Care Act, the employer mandate provision requires that all companies with more than 50 full-time employees provide healthcare coverage to 95% or more of them. Additionally, the mandate requires the insurance of any dependents who are 26 years of age or younger.
Those companies that fail to meet compliance must pay a penalty. Running the numbers on that penalty demonstrates a pretty hefty tax. That is because any business with 50 full-time employees logging in more than 30 hours a week must provide health insurance.
Should the company refuse to do so, and more than 30 of those employees are eligible to receive government subsidies toward obtaining personal coverage, that company is on the hook. However, it is for a fee of $3,000 per eligible worker. This is up to a maximum of $2,000 for every full-time company employee minus 30.
For example, if a company has 100 full-time employees and fails to comply with the employer mandate, it could add up to an aggregate fine of $140,000. This breaks down to $2,000 per employee (100) minus 30 (70 x $2,000 = $140,000).
They designed the mandate to get more people covered under the law. However, it has had an adverse effect for companies who have opted to cut the hours of their full-time employees down to less than 30 per week. That is the benchmark for becoming eligible for employer-sponsored insurance coverage under the law.
In essence, that really makes them part-time employees in the eyes of the law. Thus, the company is now exempt from compliance. There have been some reports of companies bumping up all of their part-time employees to full-time so that they may all get health insurance coverage.
There are far more horror stories of people losing their jobs or seeing their hours cut so their employer can dodge the mandate. As a result, many people are facing the prospect of getting a second job just for support with less income.
Some people are losing work due to the employer mandate. Others find themselves burdened with higher premiums on their insurance policies for a number of reasons. For some people, their existing plan was lost due to not meeting the guidelines for adequate insurance coverage under the mandates of the Affordable Care Act.
Without proper coverage, they need to buy new plans more expensive than their previous policies, Many of those contained components for coverage that they were never going to use, such as pre-natal care and other pregnancy related services.
The other reason for premiums going up was because mandates under the law restricted insurance companies from denying coverage to anyone with pre-existing conditions, or complex medical histories.
In addition, the Affordable Care Act also made it unlawful for insurance companies to charge higher premiums based on gender and previous medical history. That also affected the bottom line of insurers. As a way to make up for this shift in the law, insurance companies raised their rates in certain parts of the country. Additionally, those insured with so-called called high-end plans saw their rates go up.
Despite these effects from the law, there is no denying that it also helped millions get insurance for the first time through subsidies and government programs, such as Medicaid. These have made access to healthcare more affordable for low and middle class families.
The question as to whether the United States can afford Obamacare is all in who you ask. However, with the new administration about to take over the White House in January 2017, many of these controversial issues may no longer be applicable. A whole new set of obstacles and problems could emerge. Only time will tell, and since the GOP is eager to repeal the law, it may not take long.