Obamacare “introduced costs into already tight economy”
By Stephanie Johns
Alan Gilbert with Essential StaffCARE out of South Carolina spoke to more than 40 people at a recent healthcare reform lunch-and-learn last week.
Speaking about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), more commonly referred to as Obamacare, Gilbert said it is “a very complex bill.”
“It’s introduced an awful lot of costs into an economy that’s already fragile,” he said.
For employers with fewer than 50 full-time employees, Gilbert said this will not impact them.
“Tell them to wipe their brows and stay the course,” he said.
For employers with more than 50 full-time employees, offering coverage is more arduous because of the requirements that come with it.
“The playing field’s been changed significantly,” he said. “It’s very sobering.”
Gilbert noted that the penalty to employers for not providing healthcare is lower than the cost of providing it to employees.
For example, the average cost for coverage to a family of four under existing plans would be $4,316 with an employer contribution of $11,429.
The total cost of this coverage at $15,745 is much higher than any penalty, which would be a minimum of $2,000 per employee per year, he said.
“I see a lot of opportunity for abuse,” he said. As noted on one of the presentation slides,“It’s a relatively easier option of paying a monthly penalty.”
Gilbert added that there are no incentives for people to get coverage because there are no pre-existing conditions exclusions. In effect, people can wait until they are sick and get coverage then.
“This has the potential to be a very, very costly entitlement program in our country,” he said.
Because of all this, healthcare is moving from the auspices of human resources into the realms of chief financial officers, he said.
Bob Hughes, president of the Madison-Morgan Chamber of Commerce, noted that this equates to a push toward national healthcare.
Many in the audience seemed to agree, nodding heads and one commenting, “You think?”
One option, as Gilbert sees it, is a defined contribution plan. He called this “a solid idea” because it would pay for day-to-day medical needs while the state health benefit exchange would pay for catastrophic medical needs.
Printed in the February 21, 2013 edition