Last week, my 8-year-old son beat me in chess. He understands that a move by him leads to a move by me, and so on. He is thinking several moves ahead. His goal is to create a series of moves that inevitably leads to his declaring checkmate.
His strategy worked.
While some have speculated that the goal of the Obama administration is to create a single-payer, government-controlled system, Barack Obama has told Americans that, if they like their coverage at work, they will be able to keep it.
What he has not mentioned is that his new law provides financial incentives to large companies (50 employees and over) to quit offering health coverage to their employees, pay the penalty and have their employees participate in the insurance exchange.
AT&T calculated their potential annual savings would be $1.8 billion. Last year, it spent $2.4 billion providing its 283,000 employees with health coverage. Under the Obama plan, the penalty for not insuring them would have been $600 million.
How do we know this?
Immediately after the health care bill was signed into law on March 10, companies that were negatively affected by the change in tax treatment of the retiree drug subsidy had to reflect the negative impact to their earnings.
Not happy with the news, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., chairman of the Committee on Energy and Commerce, sent letters on March 26 to AT&T, Caterpillar, Deere and Verizon citing his concern over the large financial impact.
Last month, the four companies filed documents with the Committee assessing the financial impact, and the documents proved revealing.
Included in Verizon's submission is a March 3 document that notes, "To avoid additional cost and regulations, employers may consider exiting the employer health market and send employees to the exchange."
Caterpillar's documents include an HR Policy Association report that states, "In 2014, employers will have the option to consider eliminating group coverage, paying the applicable penalties and having their employees enroll through the exchanges. ... If an employer decides to stop offering coverage to its employees, the employer would pay a penalty of $2,000 per full time employee. ... (F)or large employers, the average annual per employee cost of health care is $7,290."
Hmm. Pay $7,290 or pay a -- penalty of $2,000. What would you do?