Investor Business Daily - October 25, 2010
The more we know about ObamaCare, the more we find out it wasn't designed to cut costs but to eventually eliminate private insurance coverage and create a government-run system.
Provisions of the Democrats' health care overhaul started to become law only a month ago, yet the list of companies dropping medical benefits for their employers is piling up.
Mega-firms such as AT&T, Caterpillar, John Deere and Verizon are among those that are either considering ending coverage for their employees or have already chosen to do so.
It's not just the big companies eliminating benefits, either. Smaller employers are doing the same. Larry M. Elkin, president of Palisades Hudson Financial Group, wrote Thursday in the Business Insider: "For 15 years, I have taken pride in paying the full cost of health insurance for every full-time Palisades Hudson employee who wanted it. This month marks the last time I will do that."
Elkin said that every one of his employees has the option of staying on the company plan. But those who choose that route "will have to pay the entire cost — ranging from $574 to $683 per month — themselves, through payroll deductions."
And where will those who don't opt for staying on the company plan go? Maybe they end up leaning on the government along with the 46 million or so other uninsured Americans the Democrats are trying to cover.
Elkin is not acting out of spite because he doesn't like the Democrats. He's acting rationally, as any good businessman should.
He knew in March, before the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was passed, that it "is likely to make health coverage anything but affordable for those who actually pay the bills" and that he would have to make changes for his 20 employees.
While Elkin is one of a few willing to publicly discuss how Obama-Care is affecting his business, others are following a bitter path similar to the one he feels he is forced to take. He cites a survey by the National Business Group on Health that found that roughly 63% of businesses plan to make their workers pay a higher portion of their health care insurance costs next year.
Again, how many of these currently insured workers will, rather than pay the premiums out of their pockets, find themselves relying on government for their coverage?
As the debate over ObamaCare raged, Americans were assured by the president himself that those of us who like our insurance plans would be able to keep them. But workers will not only lose their employers' plans due to their employers' increasing costs under the law, they will also be losing coverage because carriers are dropping some of the policy options they offer.
WellPoint, Cigna, CoventryOne, Humana, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Aetna and Golden Rule have, for instance, announced that they will no longer sell child-only policies under the Democrats' health care regime.
In some cases — the Principal Group and its 840,000 customers is one example — carriers are dropping out of the health insurance market entirely.
Meanwhile, McDonald's and 29 other companies told Washington that ObamaCare was going to force them to drop insurance coverage for some workers. Had those companies not been granted federal waivers from the requirement that they raise the minimum annual benefits of their low-cost health plans, roughly 1 million Americans would have been added to the rolls of the uninsured.
Don't think it can't get worse, because under the Democrats' ill-thought-out plan, it will. Large pieces of ObamaCare that will make the system painfully expensive and increase federal intrusion still haven't become law. The next Congress needs to get focused fast on stopping the march toward costly, substandard care.