Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Obamacare tax forces reduction in Health Care benefits & deductibles

From the New York Times:
Say goodbye to that $500 deductible insurance plan and the $20 co-payment for a doctor’s office visit. They are likely to become luxuries of the past...

Then blame — or credit — the so-called Cadillac tax, which penalizes companies that offer [so-called] high-end health care plans to their employees...

Workers with employer-paid health insurance are... beginning to feel the effects of [Obamacare]. Companies hoping to avoid the tax are beginning to scale back the more generous health benefits they have traditionally offered and to look harder for ways to bring down the overall cost of care.

In a way, the changes are right in line with the administration’s plan: To encourage employers to move away from plans that insulate workers from the cost of care and often lead to excessive procedures and tests ["excessive procedures and tests" - yeah, right, "excessive" in the eyes of the death panel, heh], and galvanize employers to try to control ever-increasing medical costs. But the tax remains one of the law’s most controversial provisions.

Bradley Herring, a health economist at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, suggested the result would be more widely felt than many people realize. “The reality is it is going to hit more and more people over time, at least as currently written in law, ” he said. Mr. Herring estimated that as many as 75 percent of plans could be affected by the tax over the next decade — unless employers manage to significantly rein in their costs.

The changes can be significant for employees. The hospital where Abbey Bruce, a nursing assistant in Olympia, Wash., worked, for example, stopped offering the traditional plan that she and her husband, Casey, who has cystic fibrosis, had chosen.

Starting this year, they have a combined deductible of $2,300, compared with just $500 before. And while she was eligible for a $1,400 hospital contribution to a savings account linked to the plan, the couple is now responsible for $6,600 a year in medical expenses, in contrast to a $3,000 limit on medical bills and $2,000 limit on pharmacy costs last year. She has had to drop out of school and take on additional jobs to pay for her husband’s medicine.

“My husband didn’t choose to be born this way,” Ms. Bruce said.
That is true, Ms. Bruce. However, in Obama's eyes, you, and your husband, are wealthy individuals - and it is only right for you to drop out of school and take on additional jobs to pay for your husband’s medicine, because, well, because it's the fair thing to do. And besides, costly medical treatments and tests are so passé; we're living in a new era: the Obama era. "Hope & Change", remember?

My advice to you, Ms. Bruce, is to stop complaining and to get with the program!
The union representing her, a chapter of the [Obama enthusiast] Service Employees International Union, has objected to the changes. Her employer, Providence Health & Services, says it designed the plans to avoid having employees shoulder too much in medical bills and has reduced how much workers pay in premiums...

Cynthia Weidner, an executive at the benefits consultant HighRoads, [said] that the tax appeared to be having the intended effect. ['intended effect', heh...] “The premise it’s built upon is happening,” she said, adding, “the consumer should continue to expect that their plan is going to be more expensive, and they will have less benefits. ”...