Tags: Barack Obama | Obamacare | health insurance | premiums | uninsured

For Many Americans, Obamacare's Damage Turns Personal

By    |   Tuesday, 24 March 2015 12:04 PM

Five years after it was enacted, Obamacare remains decidedly unpopular with most Americans. According to Real Clear Politics, the average of major public opinion polls has 52.5 percent opposing the law and only 42 percent favoring it. The 10.5 percent margin of opposition is identical to what it was when President Barack Obama signed it into law in March 2010.

Obama boasts about the increased number of Americans who now have health insurance as a result of the measure. But, according to Galen Institute President Grace Marie Turner, the progress made in this area has been relatively small, and it has come at a staggeringly high cost.

A year before Obamacare was enacted, the uninsured rate among U.S. adults was 14.4 percent. In the fourth quarter of last year, it was 12.9 percent.

"So our health sector has been thrown into turmoil, millions of people have lost their private health plans, $1 trillion in new and higher taxes have been imposed on individuals and businesses and the uninsured rate has dropped a net of 1.5%," Turner writes at Forbes.com.

Most of those newly insured as a result of Obamacare have been enrolled in Medicaid, an entitlement program that is in ruinous fiscal condition and has been devouring state budgets even though it generally pays hospitals and doctors less than any other health plan.

"Adding millions more able-bodied adults to Medicaid makes it even harder for the poorest, most vulnerable Americans to find a physician to see them," according to Turner.

"We can do better than this."

In focus-group meetings organized by the Galen Institute, it becomes clear why Obamacare is unpopular with most Americans. "Most wanted to cover the uninsured, but the law's huge overreach means they are feeling for themselves the law's impact," Turner writes. "ObamaCare has become personal."

While on the campaign trail in 2008, Obama promised Americans a $2,500 decrease in insurance premiums by 2012. In reality, they increased more than $3,000.

The average individual deductible for an Obamacare bronze plan in 2015 is $5,081 a year "42 percent higher than the average $3,589 deductible for a comparable individually purchased plan," Turner writes.

In addition, millions of Americans "have lost the doctors and health plans they valued, many are being forced to pay penalties for not buying ObamaCare's expensive mandated insurance, others are finding they must pay back subsidies they received last year, and compliance is a bureaucratic nightmare for individuals, small businesses, and physicians," she notes.

Moreover, workers have lost jobs and hours because businesses couldn't afford to provide all of the program's mandated benefits or cough up thousands of dollars in penalties.

But even so, companies are required to monitor the number of hours worked by each of their employees to determine whether they reach the 30-hour-a-week threshold defined as a "full-time" job under Obamacare.

Businesses are also required to track and report to the government the months that an employee is covered by insurance and the cost of the premiums so officials can determine whether the coverage should be deemed "affordable" under the law.

Time spent meeting these bureaucratic reporting requirements is time diverted from improving the goods and services a company produces or adding to the firm's value.

But as flawed and unpopular as the law has proven to be, things would likely be much worse if substantial changes had not been made repealing or delaying some of its most onerous provisions.

The Galen Institute calculates that Obamacare has been altered "at least" 49 times since it was enacted March 23, 2010, with two of the changes resulting from Supreme Court-instituted modifications, 17 more through changes approved by Congress and signed into law by the president, and 30 instituted by the Obama administration without statutory authority.

Since the law was passed, Turner adds: "The employer and individual mandates have been delayed, countless waivers and exemptions have been granted to favored groups, the 1099 reporting requirement on small businesses was repealed, the long-term care CLASS act was axed, funding was shut off for the troubled non-profit co-ops, and the Supreme Court changed the Medicaid expansion mandate into an option."

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Five years after it was enacted, Obamacare remains decidedly unpopular with most Americans. According to the Real Clear Politics, the average of major public opinion polls has 52.5 percent opposing the law and only 42 percent favoring it.
Obamacare, health insurance, premiums, uninsured
Tuesday, 24 March 2015 12:04 PM
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