Full impact of ACA to be seen

Elijah Anderson

Today, we’ll finally have our first glimpse as to what the Affordable Care Act is all about. This is when the state health insurance exchanges will be open for registration.

These healthcare exchanges will essentially be like what is advertised in those Progressive Car Insurance commercials. You know the ones with Flo talking about how you can go online and compare the different rates offered by various providers? Supposedly, that’s how these exchanges are designed to work. There, in one central online location you can pick and choose from competing insurance plans to suit your needs.

For those of us who are currently insured with Medicare, Medicaid or employer-administered insurance, the opening of the state insurance exchanges really doesn’t mean all that much at face value. The health care exchanges meant to be used by the uninsured. To encourage the uninsured to buy insurance, those who make up to 400 percent of the poverty level will be able to take advantage of federal subsidies that will lower the price of insurance plans. It is here where we encounter our first snafu.

When an individual lacking health insurance goes to receive medical care it comes at the expense of the taxpayers. By subsidizing insurance premiums for the disadvantaged they have made insurance more affordable for the uninsured, but at the same time the cost of subsidizing those rates will be passed on to the taxpayer. So in essence the American taxpayer will still be paying for the uninsured. Likewise, those individuals who make above 400 percent of the poverty level are expected to have health care premiums rise as a result to make up for the difference, thereby proving that this law certainly does not benefit everyone.

Another aspect of the Affordable Care Act that remains troublesome is the provision that companies with at least 50 employees offer health insurance to its employees. While many companies already do this, the mandate that insurance cover things previously not included in healthcare packages, like contraceptives, will undoubtedly decrease revenues. Thus, it’s not unrealistic to assume that such an increase in a company’s costs might cause negative implications such as pay cuts, loss of hours and even layoffs.

It seems to me that for every bit of good the new and idealistic health care law does, it causes pain elsewhere. After all, Obama’s main goal was to provide insurance for the uninsured, which this law will do. As for everyone else, Obama only promised to make insurance more “affordable” and we all know the relative nature of that term. While the uninsured stand to benefit from this historic legislation, many Americans should be bracing for impact.