Thursday, October 11, 2012

Screwed Either Way

For those that may have found me through DudeWrite, no, this is not a follow up to my post More Money, More Fun.

Do you remember when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, forever to be known as Obamacare, was being pushed through Congress and fought for by Barack Obama back in 2009?  Do you remember when Barack Obama said that if you like your insurance and your doctor you will be able to keep them?  I sure do.

Here is another question for you.  Did you believe him?  I sure didn't.  In fact, I even said so here.  Do you believe him now?  If so, I have a bridge in Brooklyn that I am willing to make you a sweetheart deal on.  When the law was being discussed, I wrote a post that suggested that there would be businesses that would drop coverage as it would be cheaper to drop coverage and pay the penalty than it would be to provide insurance coverage.

One study recently showed that 10% of businesses would drop health insurance coverage for their employees and pay the penalty.  Last year, another survey suggested that as many as 30% of companies might drop employer provided health care.  The final number will probably come up somewhere between the two numbers.

You may be asking why I bring this up all of a sudden.  Simply because it is time for open enrollment at my work place and it is weighing heavily on my mind.  My share of my current health insurance is slated to go up 30% in 2013 compared to this year.  Combine that with the expected end of the 2% Social Security tax holiday and it doesn't look like a good start to the new year. God forbid they don't pass some sort of extension on the so called "Bush era tax cuts."

To be honest, I am not sure where to place the blame for the increase on my current health insurance coverage.  It could be due to an increase from the health insurance company, or it could be that my employer is trying to force everybody into a different health care plan.  One thing that I am fairly confident of is that we can somehow relate it to Obamacare and its full implementation in 2014.

The reason I say this is because of something that I saw in a trade journal that talked about the potential penalties a business could face when the penalties go into effect in 2014.  For those companies that offer insurance, but fail to offer "affordable" plans to their employees, they could face a $3000 per employee penalty.  They define "affordable" as a plan in which the employee's share of the premium is less than 9.5% of their salary.  Entering 2013, my plan will be nearly 14% of my salary.

My thinking is that one of two things is going on in the options available to me at my work place.  Either my company is trying to force everybody into a plan that would qualify under the 9.5% rule, or they are passing on the potential penalty to those that want to keep their current plan.  In reality, it is probably a  little bit of both of these scenarios.

So how does this impact me, since after all, it is all about me.  When my new insurance premium goes into effect in 2013, my share of the premium will be almost 14% of my salary.  That would make my company liable for a $3000 penalty.  Not surprisingly, the increase of my share of the premium is nearly $2500, almost the entire amount of the premium.  Coincidence? I think not.

My point is, that going into 2013, there are two plans that my share of the premium would be below the 9.5% of my salary threshold as set forth by Obamacare, neither of which is palatable to me and my family situation.  One option would be to switch to Kaiser Permanente which would mean we would lose the family doctor we have had for 16 years.  The other would be to go to a plan with a high deductible and out of pocket expenses that I just can't afford.

I do not know what the future holds.  All I know is that in 2010 when Obamacare passed,my share of my health insurance went up 20%.  This year, it is going up another 30%.  All told, my share of my health care has gone up 67% in 4 years.  As a percentage of my salary, the share as gone from about 9% to almost 14%.  Needless to say, that doesn't leave much room for much else.  So I end by asking, is Obamacare "affordable" or not.  Not from where I sit.


  1. You'e provided good food for thought. You're right that health care costs are going up either way.

  2. I'm so not looking forward to figuring out Medicare next year and of course we have to pay for that. So after years of getting by with no insurance, I'll now be forced to. Not Obamacare, but it was a shock when I learned a few years ago that Medicare costs money.

  3. The cost of prescriptions and Dr. visits sure jumped up for my wife, only good point is generics are free, some of mine more than doubled, but no freebies on my end, difference being I am on medicare and she is not, yes we are screwed either way but at least we get to keep our insurance plan and Doctor..Right?

    Another thing they mentioned at the beginning of the Obama campaign is "If you think healthcare is expensive now, wait until it's free"

  4. Now that you mention it I believe open enrollment has stated at my job too. Thanks for pointing this out. I hadn't looked at the details yet, but after reading this I sure am.



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