Suppose that in the kingdom where you lived, the ruler outlawed all forms of transportation except trains. He says trains are the most economical way to travel, although he travels in a private plane and the train fare has gone up for the common folk. Businesses that ship cargo complain about their difficulties and are allowed to use other shipping methods.
As you are riding along, word works its way up the aisle that there are obstacles on the track just past the third stop ahead. The engineer wants to stop the train before the obstacles but has been ordered to continue. Do you get off at the next stop or do you just sit back and wait for the train wreck?
A very bizarre fairy tale, huh? Unfortunately, we are living out a scenario almost as weird.
Just over three months from now (on January 1), the insurance provisions of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) take effect. The government will dictate which forms of insurance are allowed. Although President Obama has said this is the only way to control healthcare costs, a study by the Manhattan Institute shows that average insurance premiums for women will be 55-62% higher on the insurance exchanges and almost 100% more expensive for men.
Hundreds of companies have been given waivers to the employer mandate of providing insurance for full-time employees. As far as I can tell, there is little justification for the waivers besides the companies complaining that it is too time-consuming or expensive.
There are multiple obstacles to people being able to sign up on the insurance exchanges after October 1:
* On Thursday, the administration announced that the online exchanges where small businesses sign up to provide insurance for their employees will be delayed until November 1.
* The Spanish language exchange has also been delayed.
* If a parent has employer-provided insurance, but it does not cover family members, the family members will not qualify for subsidies even if they fall within the income guidelines.
* You can use the exchanges to buy insurance, but it is not known which doctors will be available for the different plans.
* The Data Hub (the central repository for all our health, income and insurance information) is not currently able to verify income. Taxpayers have to hope that everyone will be honest so tax dollars are not providing subsidies for those who do not qualify for them. The Hub has never been tested.
President Obama insists all the problems will work out. Maybe. But how many Americans will be hurt financially before things are fixed? How many people will lose the doctor they like because that doctor is not a provider on their chosen insurance plan – despite Mr. Obama’s promise that we could keep our preferred doctor?
Some Republicans in Congress are trying to stop the train as it heads for a train wreck. They are making sensible suggestions, such as delaying everything for a year so most of the problems can be addressed. This would allow time to fix the computer software/network glitches and Congress could legislatively correct parts of the original legislation that have unintended consequences (like the family of an insured parent situation above). [See an excellent set of reform ideas here.]
Republicans would also like to have the President, his appointees, and his staff be subject to Obamacare regulations. If this way of delivering insurance and healthcare is as wonderful as presented, why wouldn’t they want to be a part of it?
I want to get off the train before it crashes. If you do too, contact your Congressman and Senators in the next few days, especially if they are Democrats.