By Burke Balch, JD, Robert Powell Center for Medical Ethics
Editor’s note. This appeared in the May issue of National Right to Life News which can be read in its entirety at www.nrlc.org/uploads/NRLNews/NRLNewsMay2014.pdf
While critical access to top health care providers is already being severely restricted in the individual health insurance plans on the Obamacare exchanges, there is reason to believe that when the exchanges are expanded to employees of all businesses, many employers will end their present coverage and force their workers into the constricted exchange plans, two May New York Times pieces demonstrate.
A May 12, 2014 article by Reed Abelson, “More Insured, but the Choices are Narrowing,” summarizes what has been widely reported: that the health insurance plans being sold in the exchanges feature dramatically narrowed “networks” of doctors and hospitals.
Abelson quotes Marcus Merz, chief executive of insurer PreferredOne: “We have to break people away from the choice habit that everyone has. We’re all trying to break away from this fixation on open access and broad networks.”
Initially, the Obamacare health insurance exchanges are limited to the uninsured and those with individual (as opposed to employer-provided) health insurance. Soon, however, they will be expanded to include employees first of small and later of all businesses.
While employers will not be legally required to off-load their employees onto the exchanges, a May 1, 2014, article by Neil Irwin, “Envisioning the End of Employer-Provided Health Plans,” explains why they will be likely to do so.
It cites a projection by S&P Capital IQ that by 2020 about 90% of those who now obtain health insurance as an employee benefit will be forced into the exchanges. Irwin quotes its managing director, Michael G. Thompson, as saying, “[T]he tax incentives for employer-driven insurance are not enough to offset the incentives for companies to transition people over to exchanges. . . .” According to its projection, large companies could save an average of 4% of their net worth over a 9-year period by doing so, and all companies with more than 50 employees could save an aggregate of $3.25 trillion.
As the article notes, “Ezekiel Emanuel, an architect of the Affordable Care Act, has long predicted a similar shift.”
As National Right to Life has repeatedly documented, forcing America to spend far less than we can afford to obtain life-saving medical treatment has dire consequences, compelling rationing and resulting in countless preventable deaths. Indeed, Obamacare contains provisions designed to prevent us even from being able to keep up with medical inflation.
We are already seeing the effects in reduced access to top providers of life-saving medical treatment – but the worst is yet to come.