Check out the Obamacare insurance exchange

Today the Obamacare insurance exchanges go live.  Everyone without health insurance must buy some, under penalty of law, from a list of approved companies. Here is the website where the uninsured must sign up:  Health Insurance Marketplace, Affordable Care Act | HealthCare.gov.

I thought that we could all look up what we would have to pay, but, as I should have known, it’s more complicated than that.  It looks like you have to start an account and enter all kinds of information before you can even see the different plans and how much they cost.

Some of you, though, have to go through this.  I’d very much like to hear from any of you who are uninsured.  Can you afford these premiums?  Do you find this a helpful program, or do you resent the federal government forcing you to buy a product at the cost of a big chunk of your monthly budget?  Or both?

My thoughts after the jump.

(1)  People with what we might call “good jobs” already get health insurance from their employers and so aren’t supposed to be directly affected (but see #4, below).

(2)  People without “good jobs” probably don’t get “good salaries,” and so they will find compulsory health insurance very expensive.

(3)  People without “good salaries” will qualify for federal subsidies, which will make the insurance premiums much more affordable, sometimes to the point of costing nothing.  Possibly most people in the exchanges will get a subsidy. (I read somewhere that couples that make as much as $90,000 a year will get federal help.)  This is going to be enormously expensive for taxpayers.

(4)  Lots of companies that provide “good jobs,” “good salaries,” and health insurance  but that have fewer than 55 employees would love to get out of the business of health benefits.  Expect many of them to drop coverage–possibly with a salary sweetener–and to let their employees buy coverage on the exchange.

(5) Since companies with fewer than 55 employees are exempt from the requirement that they provide health insurance,  expect many companies to trim the number of employees by turning full-time jobs into part-time jobs (since employees who work fewer than 30 hours aren’t entitled to company-paid insurance).

(6) One group I see this  program possibly helping is early retirees.  A person might be entitled to Social Security at age 62, but unable to qualify for Medicare until age 66.  An Obamacare policy might bridge the gap and make it possible to retire early.

What else–good or bad, intended or unintended–do you think will happen?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.


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