Voters in November might be ready to show Democrats what they think about removing choice and hiking costs, as well as their arrogance in determining that a few politicians in Washington know better about their choices than they do. Unfortunately, Barack Obama doesn’t appear to have figured out this problem. In an interview with WebMD, Obama finally acknowledged that, contra his promise, people might not be able to keep the doctors they liked, but that they probably shouldn’t have liked those doctors in the first place:
“For the average person, many folks who don’t have health insurance initially, they’re going to have to make some choices. And they might end up having to switch doctors, in part because they’re saving money,” said Obama in an interview with the medical website WebMD.
“But that’s true if your employer suddenly decides we think this network’s going to give a better deal, we think this is going to help keep premiums lower, you’ve got to use this doctor as opposed to that one, this hospital as opposed to that one. The good news is in most states people have more than one option and what they’ll find, I think, is that their doctor or network or hospital that’s conveniently located is probably in one of those networks. Now, you may find out that that network’s more expensive than another network. And then you’ve got to make a choice in terms of what’s right for your family.”
More than one option? Not in Covered California, which replaced preferred doctors with no one at all, or sent people tens of miles away from their own communities for the few options left. When employers changed insurers, moreover, they had a big incentive to find plans that also included their employees’ current providers — the employees themselves, who could walk away from the employer to find better coverage. In GovernmentCare, as Californians are discovering, that option doesn’t exist.
Americans who get health-insurance coverage through their employers have mostly avoided the market disruptions in the rollout of ObamaCare, but that’s probably going to change — and sooner than they think. A survey of large businesses, which should have the greatest stability in the market due to their clout in the market, shows that most businesses have already started forcing employees to pay higher deductibles, or will soon in order to cover the increased costs of the ObamaCare mandates (via the Daily Caller):
Four of five U.S. companies have raised deductibles or are considering doing so as health costs increase, according to a survey of more than 700 employers.
About one-third of the companies have already increased deductibles or other cost-sharing provisions like copays, and 48 percent are considering similar moves, the survey by New York-based consulting firm Mercer LLC found.
It’ll be difficult for Democrats and the White House to escape accountability for this, too, since one major driver for this impulse is an explicit goal of ObamaCare. The so-called Cadillac tax on high-end plans aimed at reducing higher provider demand created by highly-subsidized plans, which makes sense when attempting to add a large number of new risk-pool members at lower premium rates who might be inclined to make great use of the system in the first year or two. However, the disruptions caused by the Cadillac tax are both much broader than Democrats indicated, and will hit Americans much earlier than they hoped:
Employers with coverage exceeding $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for families will be taxed 40 percent starting in 2018, on the theory that the plans boost medical costs.
About 62 percent of employers surveyed had concerns related to the so-called Cadillac tax. According to Mercer, 42 percent of employers would be subject to the tax in 2018 if they made no changes to their current plans.
Employers aren’t waiting to make changes, the survey found. Almost one in five employers have already dropped the plans and another 33 percent are considering dropping the coverage. Employers are turning instead to private exchanges, or consumer-directed health plans, which give employees personal health-care accounts.
Democrats had enough trouble with the individual-market disruptions, so much so that Barack Obama has been trying to postpone practically every other mandate in ObamaCare so as to avoid the political retribution. However, businesses have to plan for the future, not just react to the present, and the law clearly shows what the costs and risks will be in continuing with these plans — which probably produced a high degree of satisfaction with those consumers. Now they’re getting kicked out of those plans and will have to pay more for their medical care, not because of their employers’ greed but because Democrats are forcing them to do so.
By the way, guess what group of people are most responsible for ObamaCare enrollment failures. If you guess Republicans in Congress, you’re very, very wrong:
States that embraced the Affordable Care Act and created health care exchanges were supposed to lead the way in enrolling their residents in health insurance, but some of them are responsible for the federal government falling behind in its projections.
Only 18 days remain before the March 31 enrollment deadline, and the government is about 1.8 million behind its goal of 6 million new health insurance customers.
That’s because states such as Hawaii, Maryland and Oregon, all run by Democratic governors and legislatures supportive of the law, have had their exchanges falter and at times collapse.
Update: Edited the paragraph about Cadillac plans for clarity.