Obamacare delivers unwelcome Christmas present

Posted on Monday, December 30, 2013 at 4:10 pm

Sen. Lamar Alexander

Sen. Lamar Alexander

 LAMAR ALEXANDER

u.s. senator

According to America’s Health Insurance Plans, there are 19 million Americans in the individual market. The Obama administration knew in 2010 that the rules it wrote for health plans would mean that 47 to 60 percent of those policies could not be legally offered under Obamacare by 2014. Yet time and again, the president still said, “If you like your health insurance, you can keep it.”

Now we all know that wasn’t true. According to news reports, at least five million Americans, including at least 82,000 Tennesseans, will begin losing their individual plans on Jan. 1. That is an unwelcome Christmas present for those Tennesseans. About 16,000 Tennesseans are losing their CoverTN plans; these are people who especially need help. There are also 66,000 Tennesseans who will lose their Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee coverage.

According to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Tennesseans can expect to pay up to three times more on the exchanges being set up under Obamacare for the health insurance they now have.

In Nashville, 105 insurance plans offered fro 2013 will not be available in the exchange for 2014. And Tennesseans who are able to keep their plans can expect to pay up to three times more on the exchanges being set up under Obamacare for the health insurance they now have. In 2013, a 27-year-old man in Memphis could buy a private insurance plan for as low as $41 a month. On the exchange for 2014, the lowest state average is $119 a month — a 190-percent increase.

These are a lot of numbers, but Americans — millions of them — are getting familiar with these numbers because this has gone from being political to very personal. And it’s hitting home for businesses: the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s membership survey says that 74 percent of businesses are reporting that Obamacare makes it harder to hire new workers.

This is at a time when creating more good-paying jobs is supposed to be the principal concern in our country.

Many of these businesses self-insure, meaning they design and pay directly for the health plans they offer their employees, and the National Association of Manufacturers says that more than three-fourths of manufacturers cited rising health care and health insurance costs as the most important business challenge.

In 2014, many of the burdensome Obamacare mandates on business that the Obama administration delayed will be in full force. We are going to hear next year about employer policies being cancelled and rising costs just as Americans saw in the individual health insurance market this year.

So unfortunately, an unwelcome Christmas present this year for 82,000 Tennesseans is that they are losing their individual policies. Even more unfortunately, an unhappy New Year is coming, in which hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans could lose their employer policies — the policies they get through their employers — because of Obamacare.

Washington should go step by step in a different direction with reforms that increase competition and choice so that more Americans can afford health care.

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