What could go wrong? Quite a few things, actually -- from dumped coverage, to widespread confusion, to waning morale. Via the Libre Initiative:
A recently released Open Enrollment Survey of more than 2000 consumers nationwide by the insurance company, Aflac, finds that neither employers nor employees are ready for the rollout of the Affordable Care Act (also called the ACA or Obamacare), scheduled to begin state insurance exchanges on October 1st with many provisions of the law going into effect on January 1st, 2014. The survey by Aflac indicates that while many workers currently struggle to understand and cope with aspects of their current coverage, this problem will grow worse under the ACA and its new regulations. Aflac warns employers to be prepared for "a highly dissatisfied workforce" as workers try to adapt to the ramifications of the law...Seventy percent of workers say they have not received any clear communication from employers about how the law will affect their health care. Just nine percent of employers say they are 'very prepared' to implement the law and a full sixty-nine percent of employers expect costs for their workers to go up because of it.
Feeding "dissatisfied workforce" warnings are a number of factors that have cropped up time and again as the October implementation deadline looms, hanging like a sword of Democles over millions of American families. CNN recapitulates the coming fallout:
“No more health benefits for spouses. Higher deductibles for employees. More cost-sharing. Employers are citing increased costs imposed by the Affordable Care Act -- as Obamacare is formally known -- as part of the reason they are pulling back on benefits. President Obama said this spring that little will change for the 85% to 90% of Americans who already have coverage, only that ‘their insurance is stronger, better, more secure than it was before.’ But that's actually not the case at a growing number of companies. .."
We wrote about the president's "85 to 90 percent unaffected" perfidy at the time. Finally, I included this National Journal link in an update to my earlier post on the administration's latest missed Obamacare deadline, but it deserves far more attention than a passing footnote. The analysis is devastating on several levels, not the least of which is its destruction of sundry White House talking points:
“Republicans have long blamed President Obama's signature health care initiative for increasing insurance costs, dubbing it the ‘Unaffordable Care Act.’ Turns out, they might be right...For the vast majority of Americans, premium prices will be higher in the individual exchange than what they're currently paying for employer-sponsored benefits, according to a National Journal analysis of new coverage and cost data. Adding even more out-of-pocket expenses to consumers' monthly insurance bills is a swell in deductibles under the Affordable Care Act. Health law proponents have excused the rate hikes by saying the prices in the exchange won't apply to the millions receiving coverage from their employers. But that's only if employers continue to offer that coverage--something that's looking increasingly uncertain...The trap is that the exchanges also present a savings for some employers but a rate hike for their employees. And shifting employees to the exchanges also is just logistically easier than trying to meet the law's employer mandate.”
But salvation lies in the subsidies, Obamacare defenders insist, assuring jittery Americans that Uncle Sam will help them lower their costs with generous benefits. That's just not so for most people. As we have noted previously, less than half of Americans in the new marketplaces will qualify for government assistance, leading to higher out-of-pocket costs for most people. The threshold at which an individual or family ceases to qualify for federal subsidies is actually quite low (assuming eligibility enforcement measures ever get up and running), hanging millions out to dry:
A single wage earner must make less than $20,000 to see his or her current premiums drop or stay the same under Obamacare, an independent review by National Journal found. That's equivalent to approximately 34 percent of all single workers in the U.S. seeing any benefit in the new system. For those seeking family-of-four coverage under the ACA, about 43 percent will see cost savings. Families must earn less than or equal to $62,300, or they, too, will be looking at a bigger bill. Those numbers include the generous tax subsidies designed to make the new system more attractive to consumers. . . . On average, a worker paid between $862 and $1,065 per year for single coverage in 2013, according to Kaiser's numbers. For the average family plan, defined as a family of four, insurance cost between $4,226 and $5,284. Fewer than half of all families and only a third of single workers would qualify for enough Obamacare tax subsidies to pay within or below those averages next year.”
"Only a third of single workers." Guess who disproportionately falls into that category? Young people, upon whose participation in the exchanges the entire funding scheme rests.