Companies prepare to send employees to healthcare exchanges
Chicago Tribune Editorial:
Abbott Laboratories chief executive Miles White said something last Tuesday that should jolt tens of millions of Americans who watch from a comfortable distance as the giant Obamacare blimp ignites and tumbles to the ground. These Americans are safely ensconced in employer-provided health care coverage — for now.People are paying a high price to give "free birth control" to others. They are also paying to add people to the Medicaid rolls. This is a building disaster that is only going to get worst for Democrats who voted for this fiasco.
But there are "clear incentives for companies to drop their health care plans and move people onto the exchanges," White told analysts at a luncheon, referring to the disastrously cranky and unreliable online insurance marketplaces created under Obamacare.
"I can tell you that the employees of Abbott or AbbVie (the pharmaceutical firm Abbott spun off in January) are going to be pretty unhappy about that, you know, if we did that," White said.
If President Barack Obama and Democratic leaders think the outcry against Obamacare is fierce now, watch if millions more Americans get blindsided with the news that they'll be forced into these dysfunctional government online marketplaces. Some will face higher premiums or higher deductibles, and they'll be required to share private medical and financial information on a website with a questionable security firewall, opening them to fraudsters, hackers and cyberchaos.
The full brunt of Obamacare's impact on Americans is still gathering. Every law creates winners and losers, but with this law so far, the losers are piling up:
• Millions of Americans have seen their individual coverage canceled and are scrambling to find new policies. Many are learning that their new coverage will probably cost more via higher premiums and deductibles … if they can break through the error messages to the HealthCare.gov website. The president's tepid "fix" last week would allow (but not require) insurers to renew old individual policies for a year, if state regulators are on board with that. On Friday, Illinois officials announced they would allow this temporary remedy. Now we'll see how Illinois insurers respond. Whatever happens, this move is only a delay. A complete overhaul of the federal law is still urgently needed.
• People who gain coverage through smaller employers are at risk of getting cancellation notices next year. Here's why: Many businesses with fewer than 50 employees buy coverage in the small-group market. These plans can temporarily keep offering coverage that didn't meet expensive Obamacare requirements. When that ends next year, though, many employers may cancel policies because Obamacare coverage will likely boost costs.
• Hospitals are bracing for financial turbulence as out-of-pocket deductibles climb and people find themselves liable for more of their medical bills before insurance kicks in, The Tribune's Peter Frost reports.