December 3, 2014

OUR REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT:

Employers Keep Shifting Costs to Workers Under Obamacare (MARK DUDZIC, 12/03/14, In These Times)

As we predicted, the assault on employment-based benefits continues unabated. A recent survey reports that 71 percent of Fortune 500 companies plan to raise employee contributions for their health insurance, and 73 percent have already moved or plan to move to so-called "consumer-directed health plans," a fancy catchphrase for skimpy plans that shift costs onto the consumer.

In addition, 30 percent report that they plan to dump pre-65 retirees onto the health insurance exchanges, and 24 percent are moving to keep part-time hours under 30 per week. Employers are required to provide health insurance for all full-time employees (counted as those working 30 hours or more) or pay a penalty under yet-to-be-enforced ACA rules.

Walmart recently announced it was eliminating health care benefits for 30,000 part-timers who work less than 30 hours per week. It's joined by dozens of other major corporations in the retail and hospitality industries who are eliminating employer-provided benefits for their low-wage and part-time workers.

These actions highlight the contradictory and unstable consequences of the ACA. Many of these workers may be able to access more affordable benefits in the health care exchanges, while Walmart gets away with a huge shift of its employment costs onto the backs of taxpayers.

Cost shifting isn't only affecting low-wage workers. In Philadelphia, an unelected School Reform Commission unilaterally cancelled its contract with the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, pulled out of the existing Health and Welfare Fund, eliminated retiree benefits, and imposed a 10 to 13 percent co-pay on working teachers.

Unions are wrestling with the new bargaining environment created by the Affordable Care Act.

More Cost of Health Care Shifts to Consumers (STEPHANIE ARMOUR, Dec. 3, 2014, WSJ)

Americans increasingly have to dig into their own pockets to pay for medical care, a shift that is helping to curb the growth in health spending by employers and the government.

The trend is being accelerated by the Affordable Care Act because many private plans sold by the law's health exchanges come with hefty out-of-pocket costs, which prompt some people to delay or put off seeking care.

For the exchanges' 2015 policies, which went on sale last month, "bronze- level" plans have an average deductible of $5,181 for individuals, up from $5,081 in 2014, according to a November report from HealthPocket, which publishes health insurance market analyses. Bronze plans generally cover 60% of consumers' medical expenses.

While surveys show steeper out-of-pocket costs lead some people to defer even routine medical care, economists say the trend brings an important upside: It is helping fuel a period of historically low growth in health-care spending, which eases the federal deficit.

GOP reforms to Obamacare will shift more of the burden to consumers, via increased use of high deduictible/HSA plans,
Posted by at December 3, 2014 8:54 PM
  

blog comments powered by Disqus
« IS EVEN $40 THE FLOOR?: | Main | KNOWING YOUR ALLIES: »