Democrats Face Obamacare Election Timebomb

Tuesday, 17 Dec 2013 12:05 PM

By Drew MacKenzie

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Democrats are facing a ticking Obamacare timebomb that is likely to explode shortly before next year's elections as millions of Americans working in small businesses will be hit with an increase in health insurance premiums.

Under the Affordable Care Act, small companies — usually those with fewer than 100 employees — will find potential hikes in their health plans kick in around next October, which is perfect timing for the GOP as it plans to take back the Senate the following month, according to Politico.

"The biggest shocker for the small business community is going to hit in October, which is interesting because it will be prime time for the election," said Jessica Waltman, a top lobbyist at the National Association of Health Underwriters.

Small business's health plans will have to comply with a whole new set of rules, including the fact that firms with younger, healthier workers will face an increase in their premiums. These plans must also provide the same minimum coverage as in individual health plans, including, pediatric care and mental health and substance abuse services.

Many small companies have delayed the Obamacare changes by extending their current health plans into next year, with many renewal dates due in early December.

But they will actually learn their new prices complying with Obamacare in October.

"You’re going to have Joe the Plumber times a thousand around the country saying, 'I got screwed,'" one health insurance industry official said.

The Obama administration will maintain that the Affordable Care Act may provide tax relief for small business owners, who will be able to shop for new insurance plans for their workers at exchanges around the country, giving them "more choices and better bargaining clout,"' Politico reports.

Problems are likely to mount for Democrats, however, if the owners of small firms blame the Obama administration rising premiums.

Although many insurance premiums would have gone up on an annual basis anyway, it's possible that owners and their employees will blame the increase on Obamacare, which could result in helping Republicans at the polls.

"It’s hard to tease out — what’s due to the law and what’s due to continuing increases,” said Steve Wojcik, vice president for public policy at the National Business Group on Health.

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