When President Obama laid out his plans for the Affordable Care Act, he was famous for saying, “If you’ve got health insurance, you like your doctors, you like your plan, you can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan. Nobody is talking about taking that away from you.”
Now three years since the act was signed into law, we learn that phrase is true, unless ...
You can keep your plan, unless your employer decides to eliminate it. You can keep your plan, unless you had a Cadillac plan. You can keep your plan, unless you can no longer afford it because your premiums go up substantially.
Once you add those exceptions, your health plan sure is not going to look like what it used to.
The idea of health care for all and the Affordable Care Act (ACA, Obamacare or whatever you call it) has merits. If everyone had health care they could catch major diseases like cancer before it’s too late. It protects people who may not otherwise be able to get insurance because of a pre-existing condition. It would help reduce the amount of charity care that hospitals have to pay for, which gets wrapped into all of our bills.
But as we get closer and closer to the law’s full implementation on Jan. 1, we are learning that this law does a lot more than was advertised. It messes with some things that are working.
For instance, if a company opts to give its employees a Cadillac plan and pay high premiums to keep good employees, then it is going to get taxed for that.
Those plans are expensive for employers. If they choose that plan, then let them.
The supposed logic is that with expensive plans with very low to no deductibles, people spend more on health care because it doesn’t matter to them how much they spend.
Maybe that is true for some people, but most people don’t particularly enjoy getting poked and probed if they don’t need it. If you have a Cadillac plan for multiple years, it’s not like you are going to sign up for 10 tests a year. It’s more likely someone would spend more on tests and other expenses if they have a high-deductible plan, and they meet their deductible one year. Then they figure it’s a good chance to get that exam they were putting off.
But while the government doesn’t want you to have too low of a deductible, it doesn’t want you to have too high of one either. In the law, there are provisions that limit deductibles to $2,000 per individual and $4,000 per family. The specifics about who exactly that affects are still unclear, as are many things. But, inevitably, those lower deductibles are going to mean higher premiums. Heaven forbid it raises premiums so much they become Cadillac plans. Then what would our great lawmakers do?
If the government was truly about helping reduce health-care costs and access for all, then it shouldn’t be messing so much with plans that are working for people. So far, local employers are not planning to eliminate insurance because of new provisions, but under the new law no one really gets to keep their current insurance. And there are still a lot of unknowns out there.