The Coming Obamacare Shock for 170 Million Americans
By Edward Morrissey, April 3, 2014
Barack Obama declared victory this week as the deadline to avoid the penalty for the individual mandate to carry health insurance passed on Monday. “The Affordable Care Act is here to stay,” the President insisted as he announced that 7.1 million people had enrolled in private insurance through Obamacare. “The debate over repealing this law is over.”
Consider that presidential wish casting in a midterm cycle in which Democrats will have to constantly defend their support for the unpopular law. As Jimmy Fallon pointed out later the same evening, the numbers were neither impressive nor reliable. “It’s amazing what you can achieve when you make something mandatory,” Fallon told his laughing audience, “fine people if they don’t do it — and keep extending the deadline for months.”
The public has hardly been in a celebratory or a laughing mood. Polls show that the American public remains as opposed to the ACA as ever, with 55 percent of Quinnipiac respondents disapproving of the law. Only 39 percent approve of Obama’s handling of health care policy, which has until recently been a Democratic Party strength. For that matter, Obama only gets a 40 percent approval rating on the economy and jobs, to which House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi wants the debate to turn now that the Obamacare debate “is over.”
Pelosi and Obama may want to be careful with that wish casting, because the two debates are now closely related. A new study from the American Health Policy Institute – recently launched by former Bush administration Deputy Secretary of HHS Tevi Troy – shows that large employers expect to face steep compliance costs, starting in the fall. Their cost estimates range between $4,800 and $5,900 per employee over the next decade. The total cost to large employers over the next decade will run between $151 billion and $186 billion, according to the 100 companies surveyed by AHPI that employ 10,000 or more people.
That doesn’t include additional price increases from insurers attempting to cover bad bets in their 2014 premium rates after the first round of Obamacare. “I do think that it’s likely premium rate shocks are coming,” CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield CEO Chet Burrell told Reuters. “I think they begin to make themselves at least partially known in 2015 and fully known in 2016.” The consensus is that premiums will rise by double-digit percentages next year from their already-inflated levels for 2014 coverage.
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