This is going to hurt, America. But you already knew that.
One week from the launch of health insurance exchanges, ObamaCare is causing chaos throughout the country — so much, in fact, that it’s hard to keep up with daily developments. More and more Americans are losing their existing coverage and being forced into a marketplace that, in many states, isn’t ready for business.
State/federal insurance sales, through entities such as Nevada’s Silver State Insurance Exchange, start Oct. 1. Exchange customers must purchase a plan by Dec. 15 to guarantee coverage is in place by Jan. 1, when the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate takes effect. Americans who don’t have coverage by that date must pay a penalty tax to the IRS in 2015 — unless they enroll in exchange-run plans by March 31, when enrollment expires.
This compressed reboot of America’s health care system leaves consumers with precious little time to react to coverage changes. Already, untold numbers of businesses have announced they’re dropping health coverage for some or all employees as a result of the law, and insurance companies are canceling the policies of the self-employed and other consumers because of changes in coverage requirements or costs. Other entities are dropping coverage for employed spouses.
Countless other businesses are still deciding how to proceed under ObamaCare; many millions of workers who have benefits through their employers won’t know of changes in coverage or pricing until their enrollment periods begin a month from now, or longer. They’ll have even less time to make a decision.
And that assumes the exchanges and a retooled private health insurance market function smoothly. Already, reports have surfaced of serious system glitches and pricing problems. If insurance and exchange workers have to spend their first weeks or months tending to IT issues, where does that leave those in need of coverage?
Trader Joe’s recently announced it would boot its part-time employees, many of whom took the jobs precisely because they provided health insurance, off its benefits plan and onto the exchanges; Home Depot is doing the same. Walgreen’s, the country’s largest drugstore, is dumping coverage for 160,000 of its workers and sending them to the exchanges, where smaller provider networks, limited choices and higher prices await. SeaWorld is cutting back part-timers to no more than 28 hours per week to avoid ObamaCare fines.
Such disclosures keep coming. Among the most troubling: layoffs and cutbacks in the health care sector, which will be relied upon to meet the increased consumer demand created by ObamaCare. The Cleveland Clinic will offer buyouts to about 3,000 employees, and the hospital sector shed more than 15,000 jobs this summer to position itself to handle reduced reimbursements under the law.
If it wasn’t clear why House Republicans are working to defund and roll back ObamaCare, it is now. It’s not too late for Senate Democrats and the White House to help find a better solution. Repeal and replace.