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Employers Brace for Obamacare


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One year ago this month, the overwhelming public opposition to President Obama's health care agenda erupted in dozens of spirited town hall meetings across the nation. Many Oklahomans joined the debate, turning out in record numbers to protest the government health care takeover.

In the months since the Democratic majorities who control Congress ignored the will of the American people and forced government-run health care into law, disapproval of the policy remains high. And for good reason. With each new analysis, experts uncover even more evidence that the law will raise costs, kill jobs and restrict health care choices to an even greater degree than initially feared.

Although the vast majority of the new regulations have not yet been implemented, employers are bracing for higher coverage costs. A survey released last week by the National Business Group on Health (NBGH) found that some companies have already made plans to pass cost increases on to their workers. According to the study, 63 percent of employers surveyed plan to increase employee contributions to premiums. Additionally, 46 percent indicated they will increase workers' out-of-pocket maximums, while 44 percent plan to raise in-network deductibles. These results are especially troubling because they include only large employers -- companies with at least 5,000 workers. Small business employees could suffer even greater cost increases.

As bad as Obamacare may be for workers with employer-provided coverage, the law may hurt senior citizens even more. Obama's plan cuts $575.1 billion from Medicare overall, including $145 billion from Medicare Advantage, a plan to which 10.5 million seniors had switched in 2009 alone. According to the president's own actuary, the cuts could result in up to 50 percent of seniors losing their Medicare Advantage plans.

The $233 billion in cuts to Medicare Parts A and B take the form of decreased payments to hospitals, skilled nursing facilities and home health agencies. According to a recent Houston Chronicle report, 300 area doctors have already stopped serving Medicare patients in the past two years -- a trend that we can only expect to continue when the new cuts take full effect.

Even before implementation, Obamacare is raising health costs, decreasing access to care, and discouraging employers from hiring new workers. No matter how hard the Obama administration works to promote their plan, the American people know better. On August 4, Missouri voters rejected by a 71 percent margin the law's requirement that every citizen be forced to purchase coverage or pay a penalty. Congressional conservatives will continue to listen to the American people and work to repeal and replace the terribly misguided mandates of Obamacare before more damage is done.

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