In her recent preview of Philadelphia magazine’s (excellent, by the way) new cover story, “The Ultimate Guide to Obamacare,” editor Sandy Hingston urged readers to “not let Republicans scare you about healthcare.”
I’m a fan of Sandy’s but … ouch! I’m one of those “fear-mongering” Republicans. Worse, I’m a Republican business owner who’s also a certified public accountant. Please don’t hate me. I like puppies. Really, I do! I think Barbra Streisand is a great singer and Rachel Maddow is really smart (and kind of cute too). I went to an Earth Day event back in 2010, and I even wore sandals. OK, I admit that I own a gun, but it’s only a Taser, so that really doesn’t count right? All Republicans aren’t evil, especially business owners. And we’re not trying to scare you about healthcare reform.
Well, maybe a little.
Healthcare reform is based on this assumption: There are currently between 30 million and 34 million uninsured Americans. By requiring them to purchase health insurance this will open up a huge market for the health insurance industry. So, in return for this enormous, new revenue stream, the government is requiring the industry to provide more coverage so that everyone can have health care. Can anyone, even a cold-hearted, emotionless Republican deny that providing decent, affordable healthcare for everyone is something a great society for ours should be doing? Of course not.
Sandy is right: No one should be “scared” about healthcare reform. But there are some scary things about this legislation. And the scariest things have to do with cost. So, c’mon … put on your Darth Vader mask, crank up some Nugent, and take a wild ride in this scary Republican’s pickup truck as I share some of the scarier things about Obamacare—from a business person’s standpoint.
Obamacare Is Scary Reason #1:
Many part-time workers will have to pay for their own health insurance.
The way the law works, if you’re an employer with more than 50 full-time equivalent employees, you have to provide health insurance. But only to your full-time people (those working more than 30 hours per week). Larger companies are increasing their part-timers and decreasing their full-timers so they can minimize the number of people they are required to cover. If you’re a part-time person working two or three jobs, you may very well have to find (and pay for) your own health insurance. And remember, you’re now required by law to do this.
Obamacare Is Scary Reason #2:
Doctors could get crushed, and their quality of work may be significantly impacted.
The legislation will require much more paperwork for doctors and hospitals. It will require more oversight by the government. It is forcing electronic records. It will (hopefully) introduce millions of more patients into a system that’s already busting at the seams. And many of these patients will be covered by Medicare or Medicaid, which means lower reimbursements for services. I’m not saying this is a bad thing, but many doctors I know, particularly those running their own practices, aren’t equipped to handle all this. A few I know are thinking of dropping out of the system and contracting out their services directly to people who are willing to pay them directly.
Obamacare Is Scary Reason #3:
If costs continue to unexpectedly rise, taxpayers are going to feel it.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the Department of Health and Human Services, tasked with implementing the exchanges where we would buy our insurance, “burned through” all the dollars ($5.9 billion) appropriated for the implementation. Needing $2 billion more, the department is reportedly drawing out dollars from a $5 billion “Prevention Fund” that reportedly has no accountability. And we haven’t even started yet. There are other huge unknowns, like the cost of Medicare and other reimbursements. The biggest fear that the evil Republican business people have about this legislation is that the costs were not fully considered before it was signed into law.
Obamacare Is Scary Reason #4:
Business people are REALLY afraid that premiums will go up a lot.
It’s because of that 34 million uninsured thing. No one knows for sure how many of these guys will buy health insurance come January 1st. And what if they don’t? There aren’t enough auditors to track them down. And even if you do track them down, do they even have the money? And if a sick person without insurance shows up at a hospital for treatment, will hospitals now turn them away? I don’t see that happening. So if that giant market promised to the insurance industry doesn’t materialize and the insurance industry has been forced to provide all sorts of new benefits (like dependent care, pre-existing conditions, etc.) who’s going to pay for those additional costs? Most of my clients haven’t received their premium bills for 2014 yet, and they are really scared. Not to mention the potential for big increases in 2015 and beyond.
Obamacare Is Scary Reason #5:
Full-time workers may find themselves paying a lot more for their health insurance.
Starting next year, companies will choose from “bronze,” “silver,” “gold” and “platinum” plans. These plans will all offer the same coverage but will have different levels of cost. The minimum required by the law is the “bronze” plan. If premium costs rise, many employers will likely continue to offer the legal minimum, but if an employee wants a plan with the same deductibles as now, then he or she will have the option of paying for a better plan—which will cost them more.
Obamacare Is Scary, Bonus Reason:
There’s still no requirement for insurance companies to cover male pattern baldness.
Really? Contraceptives are covered but I can’t get a little help buying some Rogaine? Curse you, Democrats, with your full heads of hair! This country needs more evil Republicans like me in power.