Aaaand, we’re off! To dysfunction and mayhem, that is. HealthCare.gov, the website for the President Obama’s cornerstone Affordable Care Act’s marketplace, went live on October 1…well, almost. There have been a host of technical issues surrounding the website and the system as a whole, which is drawing concerns nationwide regarding the costs, incompetency of the government, and healthcare coverage in light of the issues.
Meanwhile, all the government has to say is, “we’re working on it.” Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, testified on October 30 in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee regarding the cornucopia of problems the rollout progress has been experiencing and she reinforced that. It seems a little iffy that the government is going to be running this immense and complicated program when it can’t even run a website that cost $600 million just to build and that it claimed would work.
With that in mind, let’s look at a short overview of the reality of Obamacare and what could be coming down the pike. What is it that everyone is fussing about anyway?
First, let’s everyone be clear on a main crux of the Act; all United States citizens will be required by law to have health insurance by March of 2014. If you fail to obtain coverage either through your employer, a private insurer or Medicare or Medicaid, you are subject to a tax, which in 2016 will be roughly 2.5% of household income. If you can’t afford insurance, there will be subsidies (tax credits in this instance) for those who qualify. All sounds great, those who have healthcare will continue to have it, and those who don’t will be forced to get it and will be given some money to do so. What’s the catch?
The catch is the hidden costs to society on a number of levels. For one, this program will enter a death-spiral if not enough young, healthy people sign up to support the older enrollees that may be more likely to use the healthcare system on a regular basis or who might have preexisting conditions. If not enough people sign up to cover all the costs of the poorer utilizers of the system, then everyone’s premiums go up. Period, end of story. The insurance companies will need to cover themselves (no pun intended) in the event of a shortfall in “promised enrollees.” Furthermore, taxes have increased in 2013 for the wealthiest Americans, healthcare providers and other health related businesses to contribute to the program.
Another cost is that of healthcare costs themselves. The “affordable” in Affordable Healthcare Act only refers to the individual getting covered for themselves either on their own or through an employer. The coverage does not have to be “affordable” for family members; something of a catch-22 for Obamacare enrollees who may think this will be a swell deal for the whole family.
Furthermore, quick note on the subsidies and qualifying persons issue. That is, lest we forget about those younger, healthier people who just barely do not qualify for subsidies and certainly don’t qualify for Medicare yet their premiums will go up on their existing plans or any other plans they might seek to find in the marketplace. Doesn’t seem fair…
Have a look at this Guide to Obamacare, which provides the good, the bad and the ugly and understand why a slight majority of Americans are still skeptical of this whole experiment, according to Rasmussen.
How do you feel about the Affordable Care Act? Is it the greatest thing since sliced bread? Are you concerned that the government is overreaching its bounds? Are we embarking on a journey toward the second Great Society, or are we sliding down the slippery slope to socialism at an unthinkable rate?