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Death of Capitalism Disguised as Health Care Reform
Perspective on the News
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Rebecca Droeger

After going through the rigmarole of comparing health care plans for our company’s annual renewal of our medical insurance policy, I realized the inevitability that if the US does not repeal the Health Care Reform act passed in March of 2010, capitalism will be dead as we know it.

Though we have talked about it quite a bit here on the Omega Letter, and conservative media outlets and politicians have been warning that the reform will eventually lead to the public option, I did not realize how the law makers would pull it off.

Sure, I understood that the bill would make private industry plans unattractive by causing the plans to be overpriced and unable to compete with an eventual “public option,” I just did not know how they were going to cause the plans to become overpriced.  Honestly, I thought that the government was going to just offer less expensive plans because they planned to have a greater pool of healthy individuals enrolled in the public option.  The way I thought they were going to accomplish it would be because they planned to require everyone in the US to have a health insurance plan by a certain year.  Thus, it would cause the young and healthy people on the plan to offset the older generations.

Today, I realized that lawmakers already have made private business insurance plans unattractive by signing that bill into law. 

Businesses like Anthem, United Health Care, Cigna, et al can no longer offer plans that have life-time maximums or that prevent coverage for pre-existing conditions.  Sure, this sounds good for the consumer.  If consumers develop life-threatening illnesses like cancer or kidney failure, which require very expensive treatment, they won’t have to worry about their plan dropping them or only covering up to a certain limit.  They also won’t have to worry that the illness will not be covered even if the condition existed prior to the individual obtaining insurance until the last minute.  Unfortunately, that makes the prices of the plans go up astronomically because insurance companies now have to take in the extra considerations of these risk factors.

Normally, plans can increase on an annual basis because of the normal risk factors such as the overall health of the individuals enrolled in the plan, the number of individuals enrolled in the plan, their age brackets, and family histories.  Now, add in the extra variables, and private insurance industries are trying to do damage control before the worst happens.

Employers are already realizing the pinch of the health care reform because current premiums for most companies have been hit with a 15% increase across the board by the majority of the insurance providers.  That’s straight out of the gate.  Some companies have been hit with increases as high as 30%.

Although President Obama assured the American Public that they could keep their health care plan if they like it, he neglected to mention that most Americans won’t like the plan anymore because it will be too expensive; or their employer won’t offer that plan anymore because they can’t afford it.

Where employers are being hamstrung is the lack of choice if they want to offer an affordable plan for their employees.  Employers are allowed to keep grandfathered plans that will allow them to forgo many of the stipulations of the plan for a couple of years; but they would have to avoid changing the plan within 5% +/- of the current premiums it offers to keep the grandfathered status.  This means that the employer cannot have a favorable or unfavorable impact of more than 5% on the current premiums its employees have to pay. (They’re not even allowed to change providers).

You may wonder why keeping a grandfathered plan would be so valuable if an employer can only keep it for such a short period of time and because of all of the loops it would have to jump through to keep the plan.  The biggest reason is because plans that are not grandfathered are now required to offer the exact same plan to highly compensated employees as it does to entry-level employees.  Basically, whatever premium rate a highly compensated employee has to pay, the same rate has to be given to all of the other employees of the company as well.  It makes no difference on how long the employees have been at the company; new employees have to have the same plan as employees that have been with the company for years.

This type of scenario becomes especially problematic for fast-food industries like McDonald’s.  This is exactly why they applied for the waiver that you frequently hear about on the news.

Highly skilled employees that work in their headquarters which prepare their financials, do the business planning, and all of the jobs that require special training have different plans than the hourly cashiers or cooks in the actual restaurants.  The hourly restaurant workers typically do not require highly skilled training and their positions experience high turnover. 

Executive employees at McDonald’s have a more comprehensive health-care plan than the hourly restaurant workers.  If McDonald’s experienced a 30% rate hike, then they probably thought it might be best to pursue a different plan structure.  Unfortunately, they can’t unless they want to ensure everyone at the same level.

Now, they are left with the choice of raising the rates, changing their plan and ensuring everyone at the same rate, or dropping health care coverage for their employees and paying a fine.  Whatever decision they make, it will ultimately impact their bottom-line and their employees’ coverage. 

Some companies have opted to pay the fine and opt out of offering coverage because it would be cheaper.  This will cause public outcry because they’ll need some type of insurance; and OH, look who will step in to save the day, the government:  through a nice, greasy Public Option and a side of Lies.

This really kills two birds with one stone.  It causes businesses to look bad because it will appear they’re not looking out for their employees no matter what option they choose; and it will cause demand for a Public Option plan to make up for all of the employees who no longer can get affordable health care from their employers.

Sadly, the health care bill will have a trickle-down effect as costs to consumers for all business services and products will increase resulting from this debacle.   Their costs of running business will increase resulting from this reform, and it will have to be passed back to the consumers if they want to stay in business.

Congratulations, Progressives!  If this bill isn’t repealed, America will be sucked into the black whole of your socialist agenda.  I just pray that it doesn’t happen on this side of the Rapture.

About Rebecca Droeger

Last week: Bill vs. Bill



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