This story would be sad if it was not so funny along the way. This past week I learned, through confidential sources, that the company for which I have worked for the past 11 years would be dropping health care coverage on all its 2,000 employees at the venue where I personally work. They additionally employ several more thousand nationwide. Of course, everyone realized something was up when our inquiries regarding the annual open enrollment period were rebuffed by the Human Resources Department. We were told that as of then, the current coverage would simply roll over to the new year which sounded somewhat strange. In other words, everything was in an unannounced holding pattern.
The reason given, through this confidential source, is that the company made a conscious business decision that it would be better for them to take the $2,500 per employee penalty rather than lay out about $7,000 per employee on health benefits on the family plan. This was, to anyone with a brain with real world business experience, obviously what would happen. If you were a large employer, would you rather pay $7,000 per employee each year to an insurance company, or $2,500 per employee each year to the government? Simple mathematics indicates that on a gross level, the company “saves” $4,500 per employee each year, although they lose the tax break. Still, they come out ahead.
I have a wife and three kids- 22, 19, and 16. I was told by Obama that I could keep my children on my insurance plan until age 26, which I did. Two of those children work- one part time while he attends college and the other is in management (the 22-year-old) and makes good money, but is certainly not rich. Upon learning of the change in plans at work, I decided to go on the newly designed and 80% operational healthcare.gov website. Apparently, I was in the 20% section that day as the site froze not once but twice. When directed at one point to determine whether a particular plan had my wife’s gynecologist (she had an ovarian cancer scare), the screen froze and three attempts to reload the page resulted in failure. I still do not know if that doctor is available under this particular plan as I gave up and slammed the laptop shut in frustration.
Before even reaching that point, however, I discovered that in my particular niche of New Jersey, there were 35 plans available to me which seemed like a good pool from which to select. It was certainly better than the one plan offered through work. But, in about 25 of those 35 plans, even with a government subsidy (which healthcare.gov does not calculate but redirects you to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s subsidy calculator), my contribution would be more than what I currently pay per month. In several others, because of my income and number of children and the state in which I live (because of its liberal Medicaid eligibility income requirements), because two of my children were under the age of 20 the plans would not cover them since they would be eligible to enroll in either Medicaid or SCHIP. In other words, two children under age 20 would essentially be dumped on the welfare rolls for health care coverage.
Assuming I go that unpalatable route, that would leave me, my wife and oldest child. After the government subsidy calculated not by the government, the yearly premium I would have to pay is certainly lower than my current contribution of $120 a week through my employer. However, the yearly deductible for the three of us would be $10,000. That alone sickened me. I can purchase a policy with a low yearly deductible, however several of these policies would leave me personally on the hook for 20% of any hospital costs and a higher co-pay at the doctor’s office. Additionally, the yearly premium per month for these lower deductible plans would be greater than my current weekly health care withholding through my employer. Thus, I would be, in effect, getting a $120 per week raise in my pay (which I am assuming would be taxed) that would be eaten up by a new privately purchased health care plan through the government exchange so that my net pay would actually decrease.
Allegedly, my employer is going to cut a health care coverage “severance” check for every employee with health care benefits at the end of the year and pay the taxes. Given the fact that this company does everything on the cheap, the proposed amount- $7,500 for an employee with a family plan and $2,500 per employee with single coverage- seems way, way, way out of line. Hence, I cannot really count on it. Furthermore, their timing of the announcement (it is still unofficial and confidential) would create problems. Accordingly, coverage will continue for 30 days after the announcement taking us into January. It is my understanding, and I may be wrong, that in order to have coverage through the remainder of 2014- for me, roughly 11-1/2 months- I must be enrolled in a plan by December 15th giving me a grand total of 6 days to ferret through the dysfunctional government website’s options.
But, let’s assume the employer actually follows through on their monetary promises and cuts me a check for $7,500 with which to purchase health insurance. And assume I can get coverage that is satisfactory both in terms of doctors and cost. That helps me out through 2014, but not thereafter. I get, at most, a one-year window of opportunity to get every sickness out of my system and paid for before I face bankruptcy in 2015 should I or any family member get sick.
There are more details- some arcane, some not- that I will leave out of this story because it would reach a 5,000 word dissertation. The bottom line is that for Barack Obama to stand before the American public and make false claims and for anyone to suggest he should get a pass or to nuance his statements away takes a lot of balls. Obama and his administration is a collection of the biggest liars ever foisted upon the country and they are trying to perpetuate the biggest lie ever. Democratic assertions about Bush lying over Iraq and their WMDs in no way compares with the lies throughout Obamacare. And I can really kick the Republican Party in the ass for nominating a man in 2012 to run against Obama who, because of his actions in Massachusetts, basically took Obamacare off the table.
At this point, nothing short of total repeal and replacement of Obamacare will solve the problems most are experiencing. And there will be more shock as more of this plan is rolled out in 2014 and beyond. Obama can delay the worst, most costly aspects for only so long before more people like me are adversely affected. My experiences are simply a microcosm of a failed policy and law. The rich will always have the resources to purchase the best plans while the poor will always have welfare. But, to the vast majority of Americans- those in the middle class or just barely there- it is the biggest screwing they can ever receive. Wish me luck and hope I don’t develop an illness after 2014.