With millions now receiving health care coverage through the Affordable Care Act we are seeing that the horror stories being spread by conservatives are not true. There are no death panels. We do not have a government making health care decisions as people signed up under “Obamacare” are receiving the same types of insurance (except with more comprehensive coverage) than was present before. Those of us who received letters that our old insurance was canceled have replaced our old plans with better plans, and for most people the out of pocket costs are lower. The horror stories about people with greatly more expensive or less comprehensive coverage are being debunked whenever the facts are examined. Now we are seeing the same types of misinformation being spread about insurance for small business.
This story about a restaurant chain adding a 1 percent surcharge for health care to cover its employees is getting the conservatives all excited. This shows a lot about both how gullible these conservatives are along with their warped priorities.
This is clearly political posturing by a businessman who has become upset about the Affordable Care Act from right wing misinformation. The mandate for small business has not even come into effect yet. When the mandate does come into effect, there will also be tax breaks and credits to make this more affordable. This fee has nothing to do with actual charges. Besides, as the story points out, “Thirteen other Gator’s Dockside restaurants, which are run by a different firm and its franchisees, are not implementing the fee.” This adds further reason to question why this owner found reason to add this fee on now.
Lots of people are using Obamacare to justify increasing prices but this does not mean that this is true. I had a supplier increase their prices in July 2013 blaming it on higher costs because of the Affordable Care Act, claiming they could not get by without the increase. I subsequently changed to a different supplier who managed to offer me significantly lower prices.
However, for the sake of discussion, even though they are probably overestimating the cost, let’s assume this is correct. It is still political grandstanding to make this a separate item on the bill. Lots of businessmen might have objected to the Iraq war, but did not put on a separate surcharge for the portion of their taxes which went to pay for the war.
Even if this probably inflated number is correct, would it be all that bad if people paid an extra twenty cents for a meal to provide health care coverage for the employees? Conservatives show their priorities when the whine about this extra charge but ignore all the extra people who will receive health care coverage. Besides, I would prefer that people handling my food are healthy.
Even if their selfish concern is that they might have to pay an extra twenty cents here and there, they are also forgetting that they are already paying money because of all the people working in restaurants and elsewhere who are currently not insured. The price to cover the unemployed is factored into medical bills. It results in increasing their insurance premiums and increasing taxes because of government programs which help reimburse hospitals for care of the uninsured. In the long run other health care costs will go down as the number of uninsured is decreased.
We are also bound to hear complaints that health care premiums for many small businesses will go up once they start providing health care coverage which is compliant with the requirements of the Affordable Care Act. Some increases in premiums are inevitable because small businesses purchasing insurance have been in a similar (sinking) boat as those buying insurance on the individual market. Double digit increases have been common and just being a year or two later would mean an increase.
Many small businesses could only afford to purchase policies which were no better than the junk policies often sold on the individual market which did not provide meaningful coverage. I have seen many patients with insurance policies which only provided limited coverage for out-patient services as opposed to hospitalizations, or vice versa. I have seen patients whose insurance policies covered two office calls a year, and then they reached their limit. How many people consider both annual limits and life time limits when comparing polices under the Affordable Care Act to their older, less expensive insurance? How much more is it worth for insurance which has no limitations for per-existing conditions and which never can be canceled should someone become sick?
It will cost more to provide more comprehensive coverage than was available to small business in the past, but it does not appear that the cost will be a serious problem, even before we factor in the tax breaks being offered. I’m finding that the premiums for the insurance I provide to my employees is going to go up, but by a relative modest amount considering how much better the policy is compared to what I could afford to provide in the past.
Health care coverage has always been expensive, and we will always have to deal with this fact. Despite this, and all the fake horror stories from the right wing, we are finding that both people buying insurance on the individual market (as I do for my family) and buying insurance for small business (as I do for my employees), are doing much better than before the Affordable Care Act. Those of us who have checked out the actual numbers as to what insurance costs and have compared what is covered are certainly not fooled by the right wing horror stories. Despite people like Ted Cruz still talking about trying to repeal the Affordable Care Act, far too many people are benefiting from health care reform to take repeal seriously.
Cross posted at The Moderate Voice