In the small-group market, Laszewski predicts many employers will use a feature in the law that allows them to keep their current plans for about a year. But then: “They will likely increase employee premiums and deductibles to keep the wolf from the door for maybe another year.” And after that: They will “hope for a rescue party.” Not a particularly encouraging scenario for those 45 million people in the market.
And that is why there is more and more talk about Obamacare’s “winners” and “losers.” It has become impossible to defend President Obama’s promise that his health care scheme would make the system work “better for everybody.” It’s also impossible to defend his claim that Obamacare would “cut the average family’s premium by about $2,500 per year.” And now even Americans who receive health coverage through their jobs are growing worried that Obama’s if-you-like-your-coverage-you-can-keep-it promise, proven false for millions in the individual market, will prove just as false for them.
So the unavoidable truth is that Obamacare will hurt millions of Americans; the only question is how many. And that has caused some observers to take new note of the law’s basic structure. “The redistribution of wealth has always been a central feature of the law,” writes the New York Times’ John Harwood. “Throughout the process, [the law’s authors] knew that some level of redistributing wealth — creating losers as well as winners — was inescapable.”