April 17, 2014
The House of Representatives successfully included a valuable escape hatch from Obamacare in the recent “doc fix” legislation, but members are getting blow-back from critics who say the provision fixes and even expands Obamacare.
That is nonsense. The provision eliminated the cap on deductibles for small group plans, giving small businesses the freedom to offer high-deductible plans that may be paired with a Health Savings Account. This is a very good thing that gives them an option to offer more affordable insurance to employees.
Rory Cooper, a spokesman for House majority leader Eric Cantor, said, “This is another in a series of changes to Obamacare that the House has supported to help save Americans from being harmed by the law, and we’re glad to see the president signed it into law.”
via House Creates Escape Hatch from Obamacare | National Review Online.
April 17, 2014
A large portion of Sodexo’s 125,000 U.S. workers are variable, and about 10,000 of them are losing access to health insurance, paid vacation and sick days and other benefits available to full-timers. Sodexo says it has taken steps to ease the strain on workers, but avers that the new formula lets it manage costs and stay competitive in a business driven by low-margin contracts.
Other employers are likely to follow Sodexo’s lead in reclassifying workers as they get closer to the ACA’s Jan. 1, 2015 compliance deadline, said Gary Claxton, a vice president at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, who said that businesses sought clear guidance from government officials on how to handle workers with nonstandard hours. Many of those workers, he added, may be better off on public health-care exchanges if they qualify for tax credits to subsidize their coverage.
About 68% of U.S. employers have variable-hour workers, according to benefits consulting firm Mercer LLC, with most of them in the hospitality, retail and education industries.
via Odd-Hour Workers Face Loss of Employer Health Plans – WSJ.com.
April 11, 2014
We still need some hard data before we can project enrollment in employer plans with greater confidence. The Rand survey, which was based on a nationally representative sample of 2,500 adults surveyed each month for the past few months, comes with a margin of error of 3.6 million and a 95 percent confidence rate. So that means researchers are still pretty sure at least 4.6 million gained new employer coverage since September.
The Rand report stands in contrast to the Congressional Budget Office, which in February predicted no major change in employer plan enrollment for 2014 because of the health-care law. The CBO also predicted employers would cover 2 million fewer people in 2015, 6 million fewer in 2016 and eventually flattening out at 7 million fewer people in employer plans.
via Should we have expected this week’s big surprise on employer health insurance?.
April 10, 2014
Based on my calculations (methodology at the end of the post), coupling a repeal of the employer mandate with a cap on the ESI tax exclusion reduces the deficit by between $371.1 and $366.4 billion from 2016 to 2023. (This is an 8-year estimate because the employer mandate only begins in 2016.)
via Here’s How To Repeal The Employer Mandate And Cut The Deficit (And Then Some).
March 29, 2014
The health care law is also helping to end what could be called “entrepreneurship lock.” Simply put: prior to the ACA a person with a pre-existing condition who wanted to start her own business often had to choose between the security of employer-provided coverage or face potential discrimination in the individual market. Two business partners who wanted to leave their company to turn a new idea into a new job-creating business could be forced to shelve their entrepreneurial dream because a family member had a preexisting condition and could face sky-high rates or being shut out completely from finding insurance. Today, there is strong evidence that when affordable healthcare isn’t exclusively tied to employment, in more instances people choose to start their own companies. Now, countless Americans will have the security of affordable, quality coverage so they can focus on starting America’s next great business.
via If You Like Choice, Competition and Entrepreneurship, You Should Like Obamacare.
Editor’s note: if access to health insurance stimulates entrepreneurship, shouldn’t Europe be outpacing the U.S. by a considerable margin in entrepreneurial activity? I’m not aware of strong evidence that’s true: this study suggests the opposite. http://capitalism.columbia.edu/files/ccs/CCSWP9_FrydmanKhanRapaczynski.pdf
March 20, 2014
Mr. Emanuel argues that this “Cadillac tax,” along with taxpayer subsidies now available for Americans with modest incomes, will expand and accelerate the trend away from employer-provided health care.
Even though the health law’s “employer mandate” requires that companies with 50 or more workers pay a penalty of $2,000 per employee if they do not provide health care, many large companies now spend far more than that to offer coverage. As a result, Mr. Emanuel says they will be able to pay the penalty, give workers a raise and shed the burden of providing coverage by sending workers to the public exchanges.
“By 2025, few private-sector employers will still be providing health insurance,” Mr. Emanuel writes in his book.
via Health Overhaul May Spell End to Employer Coverage, Author Predicts – NYTimes.com.
March 8, 2014
As national Democrats prepare to run against the GOP on income equality issues, a giant union has issued a scathing Obamacare document that could undermine that case.
“The Irony of ObamaCare: Making Inequality Worse” is the title of the UNITE HERE (Culinary parent) document that is posted here and soon to be making its way to Capitol Hill. It is devastating to the Democrats. To wit:
Ironically, the Administration’s own signature healthcare victory poses one of the most immediate challenges to redressing inequality. Yes, the Affordable Care Act will help many more Americans gain some health insurance coverage, a significant step forward for equality. At the same time, without smart fixes, the ACA threatens the middle class with higher premiums, loss of hours, and a shift to part-time work and less comprehensive coverage.
The paper argues that the Affordable Care Act will transfer a billion dollars in wealth to insurance companies, create an unlevel playing field in the market, force employers to cut back hours and result in pay decreases. It lays it out in detail, with examples of union workers affected by Obamacare.
via Union research document says Obamacare will hasten income inequality | Ralston Reports.
March 3, 2014
All of the very low-wage jobs added in 2013 fell below the 30-hour threshold that ObamaCare defines as full-time, an analysis of government wage and hours-worked data suggests.
The finding highlights concerns about the impact of the health law’s employer insurance mandate, the proposed minimum wage hike and — especially — the combination of both.
via All New Low-Wage Jobs In 2013 Had Sub-30-Hour Weeks – Investors.com.
February 25, 2014
The CBO report states that: “there have been anecdotal reports of firms responding to the employer penalty by limiting workers’ hours … In any event, because the employer penalty will not take effect until 2015, the current lack of direct evidence may not be very informative about the ultimate effects of the ACA.” The employer penalty now will not take effect until 2016 for many employers, yet we seem to have amassed a mountain of anecdotes.
At some point these many anecdotes will turn into evidence. The Federal Reserve Bank’s “Beige Book” includes comments from businesses in all 12 of the Federal Reserve Bank districts. The document, issued eight times annually, summarizes comments from businesses. While it does not reflect the Federal Reserve’s official view, it does provide insights into economic conditions across the nation. Business contacts, economists and analysts frequently cite the ACA as having a dampening impact on business hiring, spending and overall uncertainty.
via Obamacare May Be Causing A Shift To Part-Time Workers In Illinois.
February 24, 2014
The “Department of Defense and Full-Year Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011” required this report to Congress on the impact of sections 2701 through 2703 of the Public Health Service (PHS) Act, as amended by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on the premiums paid by individuals and families with employer-sponsored health insurance. Specifically, the Chief Actuary of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is to provide an estimate of the number of individuals and families who will experience a premium increase and the number who will see a decrease as a result of these three provisions.
Two key findings:
· “We are estimating that 65 percent of the small firms are expected to experience increases in their premium rates while the remaining 35 percent are anticipated to have rate reductions.”
· “This results in roughly 11 million individuals whose premiums are estimated to be higher as a result of the ACA and about 6 million individuals who are estimated to have lower premiums.”
via Report to Congress – Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.