PTC business owner: ‘Why I love Obamacare’
As are most Americans, I am saddened when we listen to our political leaders argue to the point of brinkmanship. Our country was founded upon strong Judeo-Christian values such as our sense of right and wrong, truth is sacred, human life is a gift of God, human liberty, justice, love your neighbor, self discipline, self respect, individual responsibility, courage, compassion, servant leadership, helping the poor, and others. Many of these same values are found in other cultures.
But servant leadership, one of those basic values, is rarely demonstrated in our political leadership. Whenever an issue comes to the forefront, the tendency is to attack the opposition personally, and to attack the issue with one-sided arguments and false statements. Each side tries to find a way to convince the public by spending money on consultants and advertisements without any regard to truth or fairness in order to push forward their agendas. It becomes a test of marketing strategy rather than a test of ideas as to who is the victor.
Obamacare, also known as the Affordable Care Act, is an extreme example of an issue in this country that is based on Judeo-Christian values but falsely defined by a lack of exercising those same values.
As a small business owner with 30 employees, I have been struggling to find affordable healthcare for my employees since 2009 when our company was founded. Despite trying to find an affordable and realistic health plan a number of times with different companies, it became apparent that my employees were able to buy healthcare individually significantly cheaper than it would cost our company for the same coverage.
The main reason we have not been able to find affordable care was because of the structure of the current system. In this system, healthcare costs were determined both by how many people were in the buying group and the relative health of its members.
A large corporation with many employees can use its buying power to offer lower cost medical insurance to its employees. Because there are many employees in the company, a few high risk (and therefore more expensive) employees did not cause a large price increase.
Small corporations would not get a discount for buying power, and price would depend on the overall health of its employees. Small companies could face large increases in their healthcare costs if they hired an unhealthy employee. In addition, all corporations could deduct the cost of the coverage from its taxes, and its employees were not required to pay taxes on the health benefits they received.
From the prospective of an individual seeking healthcare, getting coverage from a large corporation was optimal since the costs were lower. If an individual tried to get health coverage on their own, the cost was directly related to their health, and they were often unable to deduct the cost from their income taxes. If an individual were a large health risk, the cost of insurance could be extremely expensive or not offered at any price.
What made matters worse, health insurance carriers could elect not to cover a pre-existing condition when getting new coverage. When an individual left a job, they could elect to keep their healthcare under COBRA, but the cost of COBRA to the individual was significantly more expensive than the company was paying, and the payments were not deductible from income taxes.
When an individual changed jobs, there could be a gap in health coverage especially since most employers require a waiting period before coverage begins. Unless the employee paid for COBRA from their previous job, the gap in coverage was risky if an expensive health condition was discovered in the interim.
If a person did not have health coverage at their job, yet had an expensive health condition, the cost of health care coverage was often either prohibitively expensive or not available at all. The medical problem might then go untreated resulting in further deterioration or possibly death.
The current system does allow anyone without coverage to visit an emergency room for treatment, but that is often only a temporary stopgap for solving the problem.
Another reason for increased healthcare costs in the current system is the high cost of liability insurance. There are no limits on awards to patients whose doctors made mistakes. This has caused an overreaction by the medical profession to protect themselves against lawsuits. The lack of limits on awards further drove up the costs of medical coverage.
The problem for the people without the ability to acquire affordable healthcare to be heard in our current political environment was that they had no unified face. The person could be any race, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, any income level and yet they could all face the same problem. There was no one group identity for people to rally around to solve the problem.
With the implementation of Obamacare, the current system will be changed dramatically. No longer can anyone ask anything except age, sex and whether you smoke on the application for healthcare. Everyone will be covered with equal costs based on the answers to these three questions. Employers will be forced to provide healthcare if they have more than 50 employees. All individuals will be required to acquire healthcare.
We have yet to see the actual results of Obamacare, as it is just beginning. There will undoubtedly be unintended consequences, but the natural result of this new system is that healthy people will pay more and unhealthy people will pay less under Obamacare compared to the old system.
Apparently, this is causing many people to be irate, even though our country was founded on Judeo-Christian values which include helping those who need help.
One of the areas our country has provided for those who need help is the accessibility for people with disabilities, particularly for people who use wheelchairs. We have ramps in almost every building, we have handicap parking at prime locations, and it is all decreed by law. Private companies have to pay for the access ramps and parking as do public buildings funded by taxes.
The reality is that those of us who are not in wheelchairs are paying for those of us who are by having higher taxes and higher costs of goods. Most people do this willingly. We are moved by the tragedy of people with disabilities and are generally not irate at the thought of paying more for these people.
What about the person who has diabetes and requires expensive medication? Are we not moved by this situation? Do we let those people with treatable cancer just die without treatment because they cannot afford healthcare? If you see a person with a heart-breaking condition, you might be moved and say yes. But, there is no one face to sympathize with.
The issue is not branded with one community. Instead the beneficiaries of Obamacare are painted by the opponents of Obamacare as a lazy person who doesn’t work hard enough, an undocumented immigrant mooching off of our hard -earned dollars, or a person trying to scam the system.
Painting people like this is simply untrue. In fact, the people who cannot afford healthcare in the old system are a cross-section of our country and are just like all Americans. Though they do not have the same face, they all have a face. Many of us have someone in our family who cannot afford healthcare in the current system. Many of us have friends and neighbors who cannot afford healthcare in the current system.
Obamacare is not a great system. There are certainly flaws, and there will be further hiccups. The inefficiency of government-managed systems is legendary worldwide, the United States being no exception.
So, the people against Obamacare rant about all sorts of things: the horrible result of someone paying higher premiums, the horrible result of socialized medicine, the horrible result of an expensive website that doesn’t work, etc.
Our president managed to get Obamacare passed into law during his first term. It was upheld by the Supreme Court as constitutional. Our Congress finally funded Obamacare, although I would expect more fights in the future.
Personally, I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican. There are too many aberrant behaviors in both parties that would make it hard for me to join either one, and my personal beliefs do not align with one or the other. In fact, when choosing a leader I believe my pastor said it best when he advised to choose a leader based on moral character first and political beliefs second.
When I look back on the elections the past few years it doesn’t surprise me that Obamacare survived despite the billions of dollars that have been spent trying to kill it. A vote for Obamacare was not just a vote for Obamacare, it was also a vote against the current system. The opponents did not offer another alternative. The people spoke loud and clear: the current system is not tolerable. They voted for change.
A day after Obamacare was funded, I got a call from one of the healthcare companies trying to sell me health insurance for my company. He could no longer ask for medical information related to my employees. The current quote was now completely transparent. The gentleman indicated that the price for healthcare is now the same everywhere. The gentleman also indicated that if I used his company, the cost to administer the healthcare plan, over and above the healthcare cost, would be $120 per month per employee, or about 36% over and above the cost of the healthcare insurance.
None of the companies had ever mentioned this administration cost in the past. Instead they attributed the increased amount of prior quotes to the health risk in our pool of employees. When I pointed out how expensive this administration cost was, he agreed we would be better off doing the administration internally with our employees because the administration cost to us would then be a small fraction of what his company was charging. The good news is that now we can offer our employees healthcare.
The better news for me is that people who otherwise did not have access to healthcare because of poor health can now acquire it for a reasonable price. Helping these people is aligned with my personal values, the same Judeo-Christian values on which our country was founded.
Peachtree City, Ga.