June 25, 2013. Bentonville. In the years since the Affordable Care Act was passed, aka Obamacare, experts have argued over what the sweeping changes will mean to the average American. Now, only a few months away from the main launch, corporations like Wal-Mart are moving quickly to revamp their employee benefits programs to limit their exposure. In the process, they’re proving what many critics of Obamacare have long claimed – Americans will receive less healthcare for their dollar.
In addition to higher insurance costs for less coverage, Americans will also be paying higher taxes to fund Obamacare.
The propaganda begins
Almost immediately after the state of California released its Obamacare-mandated healthcare insurance exchange, the Obama administration proclaimed that the result is now quantifiable – monthly premium costs have come down for policyholders. But outlets like Forbes are insisting the exact opposite – that the ‘exchanges’ are more expensive.
The key to proving which side is right involves delving into the specifics of each plan – the ‘before and after’. Democrats and their supporters insist the monthly premiums Americans will pay by participating in the California exchange are lower than before. While that may be true, deductibles are higher, co-pays for services are higher, and desperately-needed prescriptions, devices and services have been replaced by cheaper and less-helpful versions or eliminated all together. In other words, it would appear Americans are paying less but receiving much, much less.
To listen to Republican activists like Forbes Magazine, the California health insurance exchange is actually more expensive. However, their formula doesn’t appear to compare apples to apples or oranges to oranges. Instead, they simply take ‘the three lowest-priced plans’ in the Obamacare exchanges and compare them to the three lowest-priced plans from one particular internet-based healthcare company today. The internet insurance is cheaper than the exchange, but nowhere do researchers compare what exactly each plan offers. They simply compare the prices between Obamacare’s cheapest plan versus the cheapest plan currently available to all Americans online.
Millions losing insurance
One change that has become clear in the run-up to the full implementation of Obamacare on January 1, 2014 is that going forward, there will be many more people on welfare or using government-managed exchanges, and many fewer utilizing employer-sponsored health insurance. Recent changes by one single corporation – Wal-Mart – guarantee that fact. The nation’s largest non-government employer has already announced it is dropping many of its 1.4 million US workers from its health insurance plans.
The Affordable Care Act requires large corporations to provide company-sponsored health insurance options to their employees. But the law doesn’t require those options to be good. Already, corporations are forcing their employees to pay most or all of the monthly premiums. And higher deductibles and lower payout limits are insuring that individual Americans and their dependents will pay much more of the costs than they used to.
The most profitable course of action, as Wal-Mart is proving, is to drop employee insurance all together. To do that however, Wal-Mart must make part-time employees out of its current full-time employees. And at the end of 2012, that’s exactly what the company announced it was going to do. Those changes are now being felt across the country.
An account from Breitbart.com cites a December review of Wal-Mart’s newly-released employee insurance policy changes. ‘Labor and health care experts portrayed Walmart’s decision to exclude workers from its medical plans as an attempt to limit costs while taking advantage of the national health care reform known as Obamacare,’ the report reads, ‘Among the key features of Obamacare is an expansion of Medicaid, the taxpayer-financed health insurance program for poor people. Many of the Walmart workers who might be dropped from the company’s health care plans earn so little that they would qualify for the expanded Medicaid program, these experts said.’
It’s already been widely documented that for more than a decade, Wal-Mart has used extensive printed materials, instructional videos, and HR supervisors to help its employees apply for Medicaid. The company’s pay rates are so low, most of its employees actually live below the poverty level and already qualify for welfare assistance.
Changes already taking place
Documenting Wal-Mart’s frantic effort to reorganize its workforce into an army of part time employees with no health insurance, a February report from WallStCheatSheet.com describes how the corporation took a major hit when it revealed it didn’t have enough employees to keep the shelves stocked in its 4,663 US stores.
‘In February, it was revealed that US Chief Executive Bill Simon thought that “self-inflicted wounds” were Wal-Mart’s “biggest risk”,’ the financial news outlet reported, ‘This problem became apparent to the rest of the world when Bloomberg reported that the discount retailer did not have enough workers to restock the shelves. In the past five years, the company has added 455 stores in the United States, a 13 percent increase, according to regulatory filings. However, the company’s employee count has dropped by approximately 20,000 in the same period.’
Also confirming that America’s healthcare system is already changing is CNBC. The stock market news outlet reports, ‘Also remember that many changes have been sneaking into your employer’s health-care offerings for years — particularly those designed to save the corporation money by shifting costs to you. Workers have become used to getting vaccinations at the office, higher co-pays and higher deductibles and other cost-saving options, even if they are not always sure what they mean.’
The conservative, Republican-friendly network goes on to give America a glimpse of what the country’s future healthcare system will look like, ‘It helps to keep in mind that come Jan. 1 2018, employers will be subject to an excise tax on plans that cost the company $10,200 per individual employee and $27,500 for families. That’s the true “health-care cliff,” and companies’ efforts to avoid paying it is what will drive benefits for years to come.’
The report also gives examples of how Obamacare will lower healthcare costs for Americans, ‘You may choose to go to the doctor less often if you are paying for each visit yourself, and thereby cut the overall cost of your health care.’ The account gives additional examples writing, ‘Look for health care to be delivered via phone or computer, or to your desk: “telemedicine,” “e-visits,” and onsite clinics will be increasingly replacing traditional doctor’s appointments.’
The cost of Obamacare
One organization that is positive Obamacare will cost Americans more is the Roosevelt Institute. According to their evaluation, Americans will have more insurance, but less healthcare and less money left-over in their pockets.
“The news shouldn’t be left wing or right wing, conservative or liberal. It should be the news. It should be independent” – Mark Wachtler, Whiteout Press founder
‘The “reform” introduced by this bill largely promotes the status quo by pulling more people into an expensive health care system that is managed and funded by private insurers with no countervailing government option,’ the progressive group warns, ‘Given that over half of all household bankruptcies are due to health care costs, creating mandates to force people to turn over an even larger portion of their income to insurance companies will further erode household finances and exacerbate the problem of declining incomes. It’s the Wall Street bailout principle extended to the health insurance industry.’
If one were to step back and look at the changes now taking place due to the implementation of Obamacare, it would look something like this:
- Corporate executives and government officials will retain their gold-plated health insurance plans at no cost to them.
- Government employees will be given cost-saving options. Union employees will be forced to pay larger percentages of their monthly premiums and lose some benefits upon retirement. Non-union government employees will be forced into the state-run exchanges.
- Private sector managers may be invited to participate in the gold-plated plans, but most will have to pay a large and unaffordable portion of the premiums, thus forcing them into the same boat as the rest of the corporation’s employees.
- Full time private sector employees will either be forced into the state-run exchange or will simply be referred to the company’s insurance provider. Employees will have to purchase and pay for their own insurance, albeit with a slight discount for being an employee of one of the insurance company’s group plan customers.
- Self-insured individuals will also see a continuation of higher costs and less benefits. However, they will now have the option of comparing the state-run exchange plans with the private plans they currently pay for.
- Part time private sector employees will most likely not be able to afford the state-run exchange plans and will enroll in Medicaid.
- Senior citizens will watch Medicare slowly transform into a joint program offering fee-based exchange insurance for those who can afford it, with the rest falling onto the state’s Medicaid rolls.
- The nation’s poor will continue to receive Medicaid. But the only part of Medicaid that will remain is the name. Instead of having a government insurance plan that pays 100%, Medicaid is already being replaced by private insurance with small co-pays and the elimination of coverage for expensive drugs and procedures.
While deciphering the propaganda and political rhetoric being used to judge the results of Obamacare, it’s worth remembering that nobody on either side of the argument has ever claimed that Americans will receive the same or more healthcare at a lower cost. Every forward-looking projection of the nation’s healthcare system clearly shows that the out-of-control, skyrocketing prices will continue to rise.
Obamacare simply forces every American to buy insurance. And by definition, insurance companies take in more money than they pay out. The only way most consumer advocates agree the problem can be reversed is by forcing price-controls or imposing a complete state take-over of the healthcare and insurance industries. Unions are one current example of that system. They are their own insurance company, depositing monthly premiums into an account and using that money later to pay medical bills. They negotiate lower rates because of their bulk purchasing power like corporate insurance companies.
The only difference between a union policy and the more expensive insurance company policy is that the unions don’t pad their members’ costs with profits for themselves like the state-run exchange insurers do. For union members, it’s like buying a new car at-cost. And while most Americans are staunchly opposed to a state take-over of the nation’s healthcare system out of fear of substandard care, long waiting periods and death panels, America in the hands of the world’s profit-obsessed multi-national healthcare and insurance corporations may be even worse. One thing’s for sure – we’re about to find out.
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