By liberal and media acclamation, ObamaCare is a glorious success, the political opposition is fading and the entitlement state has gained another permanent annex. The reality, for anyone who cares to look, is different and suggests that ObamaCare is far more vulnerable than this conventional wisdom.
In apparent recognition of the distinct unpopularity of the Affordable Care Act’s Cadillac tax—an excise tax on high-value, employer-provided health benefits—more than 100 economists have signed a letter defending it. As the Washington Post headline about the letter read: “101 Economists Just Signed a Love Letter to the Obamacare Provision Everyone Else Hates.”
The Affordable Care Act does not require businesses to provide health benefits to their workers, but applicable large employers may face penalties if they don’t make affordable coverage available. The Employer Shared Responsibility Provision of the Affordable Care Act penalizes employers who either do not offer coverage or do not offer coverage which meets minimum value and affordability standards. In 2016, these penalties will apply to firms with 50 or more full-time equivalent employees. This flowchart illustrates how those employer responsibilities work.
On Tuesday, the Kaiser Family Foundation released its annual survey of employer-sponsored health plans. The number that will probably attract the most attention relates to the premiums attached to employer plans — an important figure, since rising premiums eat up money that could otherwise go toward pay increases. The survey shows that 2015 premiums for family coverage were 4.2 percent higher than in 2014, a rise slightly greater than those of the past couple years.
More than two years away from the implementation of the Affordable Care Act’s “Cadillac” tax, 16 percent of large employers offering health benefits have changed their benefit plans or moved to less expensive plans to avoid going over the limits set by the law, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report released Tuesday.
The key findings from the survey, conducted from January through June 2015, include a modest increase (4%) in the average premiums for both single and family coverage in the past year. The average annual single coverage premium is $6,251 and the average family coverage premium is $17,545.
Some Republicans are eyeing repeal of Obamacare’s “Cadillac tax” as part of a larger plan to roll back some of the law’s most unpopular and unworkable provisions. It is certainly a good idea to move legislation this year that begins to push back against Obamacare’s many excesses. But the Cadillac tax is the last provision Republicans should be targeting for repeal right now, and they certainly shouldn’t repeal it without replacing it with something more sensible.
The Census Bureau has finally released definitive statistics on the number of uninsured in 2014 and the news is not good for Obamacare (unless, of course, you have abysmally low expectations for government performance). The population-wide uninsured rate fell from 14.5% in calendar year 2013 to 11.7% in 2014. The total number of uninsured dropped from 45.2 million in 2013 to 36.7 million in 2014–a net of 8.5 million who gained coverage.
CBO and JCT have completed a preliminary estimate of the net budgetary effect of eliminating the requirement that individuals purchase health insurance and associated penalties established by the Affordable Care Act. We estimate that eliminating that requirement and the associated penalties would reduce the deficit by about $305 billion over the 2015-2025 period. That total consists of a $311 billion decrease in direct spending partially offset by a $6 billion decrease in revenues. Please see the attached table for year-by-year budgetary effects and a summary of the effects on health insurance coverage.
Repealing ObamaCare’s individual mandate would save about $300 billion over the next decade while driving the nation’s uninsured rate back up to 2013 levels, according to new federal budget estimates.
Government health departments would save about $311 billion over 10 years if Republicans successfully repealed the mandate, which requires nearly all adults to purchase healthcare or pay a penalty.