Affordable Care Act Doesn’t Require That Health Insurance Be Affordable

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I’ve long argued that the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” won’t make health insurance and health care more affordable so much as it will make both more expensive and harder to get. As we watch health insurance premiums grow at a faster rate than before the law was passed, as we watch the health care and insurance industries get flooded with a tidal wave of new regulations, it’s not hard to see just how true that is.

And now, according to a new ruling for the Obama administration, employees with families are going to have a tougher time finding coverage for their loved ones. Obamacare makes the cost for businesses covering employees a lot more expensive, but fines businesses if they don’t provide “affordable” coverage for their employees. Affordable, that is, as defined by the government. And only for employees. Not necessarily their families.

WASHINGTON — In a long-awaited interpretation of the new health care law, the Obama administration said Monday that employers must offer health insurance to employees and their children, but will not be subject to any penalties if family coverage is unaffordable to workers.

The requirement for employers to provide health benefits to employees is a cornerstone of the new law, but the new rules proposed by the Internal Revenue Service said that employers’ obligation was to provide affordable insurance to cover their full-time employees. The rules offer no guarantee of affordable insurance for a worker’s children or spouse. To avoid a possible tax penalty, the government said, employers with 50 or more full-time employees must offer affordable coverage to those employees. But, it said, the meaning of “affordable” depends entirely on the cost of individual coverage for the employee, what the worker would pay for “self-only coverage.”

Most employers offered family coverage plans for their employees prior to Obamacare. With this development, however, that’s probably going to change.

Which makes a person wonder, what exactly has Obamacare accomplished? It hasn’t made health insurance or health care more affordable. In fact, it’s doing the opposite. And it’s making care harder to get.

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Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com. In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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