The impact of ObamaCare on doctors and patients, companies inside and outside the health sector, and American workers and taxpayers

Starting in January, the Affordable Care Act will require businesses with 50 or more full-time-equivalent employees to offer workers health insurance or face penalties that can exceed $2,000 per employee. The health care law’s employer mandate, a provision that business groups fought against fiercely, is intended to make affordable health insurance available to more people by requiring employers to bear some of the cost of providing it. For some business owners on the edge of the cutoff, the mandate is forcing them to weigh very carefully the price of growing bigger.

The brief’s key findings:

  • The 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA) included roughly 165 provisions to improve Medicare’s finances.
  • The Medicare Trustees Report, which reflects the ACA provisions, shows dramatically lower cost projections for Medicare in the future.
  • The Medicare actuaries also produce alternative projections assuming that the legislated restraints on growth in payments to health providers are not feasible.
  • A review of both sets of projections over the past six years shows that the gap between them is narrowing due to declines in the alternative cost projections.
  • However, a significant gap still remains, which underscores the inherent uncertainty involved in long-range projections.

Big news: UnitedHealth Group slashed its earnings outlook today, citing new problems related to Obamacare, and told investors it may exit the program’s exchanges. “In recent weeks, growth expectations for individual exchange participation have tempered industrywide, co-operatives have failed, and market data has signaled higher risks and more difficulties while our own claims experience has deteriorated,” Stephen J. Hemsley, chief executive officer of UnitedHealth Group, explained in a press release.

Beginning in December of 2016, restaurants with more than 20 locations will be required to provide calorie information on their menus as part of the multi-stage Obamacare rule roll-out. While big chain restaurants and their large-scale suppliers like Coca-Cola or Budweiser will be able to follow this rule relatively easily, this could effectively ban craft beer from these establishments as smaller breweries struggle to comply.

A recent National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) study reveals that ObamaCare Marketplace plans are a bad deal, even for near-poor enrollees receiving large subsidies from the federal government. The study confirms that net premiums (after subsidies) were still several times what enrollees might have paid out-of-pocket for medical expenses had they remained uninsured.

The Obama administration and leading members of Congress are clashing over a new Medicare payment rule that could compromise patient care, impede development of a fledgling part of the biologics industry, and make it more difficult to track patient safety issues. At issue is government payment policy for a new class of drugs called “biosimilars”—drugs that are similar but not identical to the original brand name biologic drug.

Gallup’s latest poll shows the majority of Americans still oppose the ACA, even two years after its full implementation. Those who are uninsured oppose the health care law by nearly 30 points.

Proponents of more than doubling the current minimum wage of $7.25 appeared to have overlooked a simple fact. Thanks to government mandates such as Obamacare, today’s minimum wage already effectively amounts to $10.46 an hour. If we more than double the nominal minimum wage to $15, we actually will be requiring employers to pay $18.31 an hour.

This week on “The Journal Editorial Report” with Paul Gigot, columnist Kim Strassel talks about how ObamaCare helped the GOP pick up a governor’s seat in Kentucky as the law’s troubled co-ops continue to collapse.

Dr. Christina Bovelsky runs Peachtree Family Medicine in Middletown Delaware, and offers a unique approach to medicine. Rather than dealing with traditional insurance, co-pays and deductibles, Dr. Bovelsky’s patients pay a one-year membership fee. This fee includes between two and four office visits, an annual physical exam, and small procedures like electrocardiograms and strep tests.