One of the interesting side effects about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, is that after years of barely speaking to my brother, we have at last found a subject upon which we have reached common ground and have since reconciled. Full disclosure: my brother has his own health insurance business that has been doing fairly well, that is, until recently.
I too, have my own reasons for having a huge sense of fear and foreboding as deadlines for compliance with the law loom over the horizon. Though the tax reporting provisions for employers have been delayed, the delay itself may just be the cause of the confusion that remains about the reporting requirements, etc.
My main concern with this law, as it is for other sensible Americans, is how this mandate will actually be funded in the long run. Could these mandates cause more harm than good? In implementing this legislation, are we not giving the IRS a lot more control over our private lives than it already (inappropriately) has??
According to a recent WSJ article success of the law hinges on young people, as the authors (Christopher Weaver and Louise Radnofsky) state:
If flocks of relatively healthy 20- and 30-somethings buy coverage, their insurance premiums will help offset the costs of newly insured older or sicker people who need more care. If they don’t, prices across the U.S. could spike.
And, given the fact that so many younger people are unemployed, or underemployed, it’s hard to see how young people will “flock” to purchasing these policies. Furthermore, although the delay in reporting requirements will not impact these young people to purchase insurance from local exchanges, since the timeline hasn’t changed, it will be difficult to determine whether or not all are in compliance with the new laws, resulting in more costs for taxpayers.
However, it would be disingenuous of me to feign indifference to the stated “good” intentions of Obamacare. As a part-time medical educator I have on occasion been a witness to how inefficiently healthcare is delivered and distributed among the poor at the public health clinic where I have the honor and privilege of working.
And yet, speaking only for myself, I have never been able to understand how adding more laws, regulations, reporting requirements, not to mention onerous IRS involvement would even begin to alleviate what I see as a complex systems problem in healthcare delivery.
Of course these are not new concerns as the law has been on the books for 4 years. Yet, the Obama administration has done little to allay mine. And, unless something dramatic happens in the halls of Congress, it looks like it’s here to stay for the foreseeable future.
Sure, even if we could accurately divine the foreseeable future, it’s impossible to assess the actual damage that will be done by Obamacare to the healthcare system. Until then, I am convinced that it will continue to create more problems than it was intended to solve.