By: Lloyd Green Jr.
On Thursday, June 28, with a 5-4 decision, the United States Supreme court gave their decision on the ObamaCare health care law that it was indeed constitutional; additionally finding that congress was acting within its powers, upholding the mandate as a tax.
“This is a victory for people all over the country.” praised President Barack Obama at a press conference following the courts decision.
The decision has many Americans torn, with some responding to the health care law as a Band-Aid, while others dislike the law itself yet can’t wait for the benefits to begin.
With the new law estimated to cost Americans $1.76 trillion over the next 10 years. Starting in 2014, almost every American will be required by federal law to be insured or pay a fine.
Officially signed in 2010, some of the health care law provisions have already been in effect: young adults can stay insured on their parents’ insurance up to age 26. Insurers can’t deny coverage to children with health problems or put limits on how much policies will pay out to each person over a lifetime. Co-payments have also been eliminated from policies for all preventative care, for all ages. Additionally, Medicare recipients are saving additional money through an improved prescription drug benefit program that closed the well known ‘dougnut hole’.
What does this means for the future?
At the beginning of 2014, many of the mandates will begin to take effect. That is when most Americans will be required to carry health insurance or pay the penalty (or tax) of 1% of a person’s income or $95, whichever is greater.
The penalty has many Americans outraged with many individuals asking, “How can you expect someone to pay a fine when they don’t have the money for health insurance.” While other simply have claimed, “I will pay the $95, it a lot cheaper.”
Consumers will also be able to begin comparison shopping for policies with newly created exchanges that will operate like popular online shopping and travel websites.
The health care law is expected to insure Tens of Millions of Americans in 2014, with many qualified to enroll in the federal-state Medicaid (MediCal for California) program; after the Supreme Court makes a few changes on how the program will work.
While others who still earn too much to qualify in the federal-state Medicaid program will receive tax credits to offset their insurance cost.
Lastly, Insurance companies will have to sell coverage to everyone, regardless of their medical history, and will have to restrict how much they vary premiums based on age.
I already have Insurance, now what?
For the last several months, Insurance companies have been making changes to their plans and preparing Americans for the health care law. If you haven’t already, you will begin to see changes to your plan, and to your premiums. If you receive benefits from your employer, they may have ‘grandfathered’ your insurance benefits structure or you will see new changes in the future as the plan will have to meet new regulations under the law. There has been some speculation that businesses will stop offering coverage and pawn their employees off to the ‘exchange’ once available.
Will my premiums go up?
The answer is YES. Americans can expect to see their health care premiums rise along with their co-payments, because the cost of health care is continuing to rise along with the requirements to insurance companies to make benefits more generous and the laws inability to curb premium rates. Older Americans, will see a slight drop in their premiums due to the laws new age/rating rules put into effect with insurance companies.
What does the law mean for businesses?
The law will also effect small to mid-sized businesses, by requiring companies with 50 workers, or more, to offer insurance to their workers or pay a penalty. If a business with at least 50 workers has a full time employee who is receiving federally-subsidized health insurance through an ‘exchange’, then that employer must pay a penalty for failing to offer that worker acceptable insurance on the job, that can cost the employer $2000 per subsidized employee. Additionally, Fines to employers under the employer mandate also are imposed on workers who are not full-time employees, where a combination of employees working 120 hours per month (around 30 hours per week) count as one employee. This provision in the bill especially hurts seasonal businesses, where it is frequently not cost effective to provide insurance benefits to an employee who will only be with the firm for a short period of time.
The ‘landmark ruling’ by the U.S. Supreme court is effectively in place for now, and its future depends on the November 2012 Presidential Election where Americans will choose which candidate and party will control the Whitehouse.
Democratic candidate incumbent President Barack Obama and most members of his party consider the law “an achievement and must move forward in implementing it”; however opposing Republican candidate Mitt Romney, has pledge to overturn it and offer an undisclosed alternative proposal.
“I know the debate over this law has been divisive,” Obama said. “It should be pretty clear that I didn’t do this because it was good politics. I did it because I believe it is good for the country.”