The Myth That Obamacare Will Only Affect the Uninsured



There's a sort of myth that only those who are currently uninsured will be significantly affected by Obamacare. They'll be helped, and everyone else won't notice a thing. For defenders of the law, it's a way to tell the majority of individuals in the country that they have little to worry about, because little of consequence will change.

You can see a version of this in Nancy-Ann DeParle's defensive Washington Post op-ed on "the successes of Obamacare." DeParle, the former director of the White House Office of Health Reform, wants to reassure you that if you get your insurance from your job, you don't have to worry about rising health costs.

"Critics say the law fails to bring down health-care costs," DeParle wrote last week. "A review of the facts is in order. If you get insurance at work, the new law will not disrupt your coverage or make it more expensive."

So is everyone who gets insurance from work not going to notice the law? Not exactly. Large employers and their workers will probably see the smallest impact, but many small businesses and their employees can expect costs to rise. As The Washington Post noted yesterday, the law imposes a new tax on health insurance—a tax that will be passed on to customers, mostly small employers who buy insurance in the small group market.

In many states, these will not be small increases. Estimates provided by insurers to GOP officials on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, meanwhile, suggest that double-digit premium increases will be common. (The committee asked insurers to provide estimates already completed before the committee's request was received, so it is unlikely that insurers were tailoring their estimates to what they thought committee officials wanted to hear.) In Maine, small group premiums could rise by 55 percent. In Florida, increases could be anywhere from 13 to 75 percent. An 11-state analysis by health insurer WellPoint found that, on average, small group premiums will rise by 13-23 percent. 

As for whether or not the law will "disrupt" insurance, I suppose it depends on whether or not you think that losing or dropping your insurance counts as a disruption. According to the Congressional Budget Office, about 7 million people are expected to transition from their current employer-sponsored health insurance to the law's health exchanges by 2022—an estimate that has already been increased by about 3 million since the law passed. Other estimates have suggested that the actual number could be much higher—as many as 35 million individuals over time. But even at the low end, there are a lot of people whose current employer-provided coverage will be "disrupted" following the implementation of the law.

Now, it's also likely that many of the currently uninsured will have employment-related troubles as well. That's because large numbers of the uninsured are likely to have their work disrupted. Already we are seeing anecdotal evidence and government jobs data suggesting that employers are capping hours for part-time workers in response to the law's requirement that employers provide health coverage to full time employees. Small businesses are reportedly weighing the possibility of firing employees or turning them into contractors. Researchers at UC Berkeley recently estimated that 2.3 million workers are at risk of having their hours cut back because of the law. As a result, The Los Angeles Times notes, "not only will these workers earn less money, but they'll also miss out on health insurance at work."

Yes, most of those workers will then have access to subsidized health insurance. But even with subsidies, premiums won't exactly be cheap. Particularly for many young, healthy individuals, then, it will be tempting to simply pay the law's uninsurance penalty/mandate tax and wait until sick to buy insurance. And as Ezekiel Emanuel, another former White House health adviser warned last week, if too many such individuals make that choice, the result will be higher premiums for those who do buy insurance. 

That's not to mention the health law's new benefit mandates, its restrictions on high deductible plans, or the way it potentially affects labor groups that offer multiemployer health insurance plans, which could disrupt health insurance for as many as 26 million union members. The point is that Obamacare isn't just going to be an imperfect but welcome benefit for the uninsured. Millions of people will see their work and their workplace benefits disrupted, somehow, as a result of the law. 

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  1. “If you get insurance at work, the new law will not disrupt your coverage or make it more expensive.”

    Sure, until the employer drops the insurance plan because the tax hit is cheaper than shelling out thousands a month for a healthcare plan for their employees. And the claim that it won’t make it more expensive is just a brazen lie, considering that there’s no evidence premiums will remain stable, let alone drop.

    1. Yeah pointing out to liberals that premiums are still going up is lots of fun. They usually just either deny that is true, or blame Republican obstructionism.

    2. I’m appalled that the same folks generally decrying inefficiencies in military spending several years ago now generally buy the argument that the feds throwing still more money at healthcare will result in lower premiums.

      Appalled is a synonym for unsurprised, right?

    3. I call bullshit. It has already made premiums rise. And will again in 2014. Especially for the young snappers that voted for O, because he’s a nice guy, and to get free healthcare, bwahahhaaaahaahhaaa!

      Enjoy your free healthcare, or your penaltax and no insurance, fools!

      1. Hyperion| 5.13.13 @ 5:54PM |#
        “I call bullshit. It has already made premiums rise.”

        And the resident ‘finance expert’ (shreek) said this can’t be a result of Obozocare since it’s not yet fully active!
        One of his most amusing posts!


          1. The way it’s shaping up now, I don’t think it’s the Christfags that should be worried.

            The Democrats are crucifying themselves like a Republican in a POTUS race.

          2. Sorry Almanian….needz moar CHRISTFAG!

    4. Aaron. if you, thought Mark`s blurb is something, on wednesday I bought a great GMC after making $6565 this-past/five weeks and-in excess of, $10k lass month. with-out any question its the most-financially rewarding I’ve had. I actually started four months/ago and pretty much immediately started bringin home over $74, per hour. I work through this website… http://www.daz7.com

  2. the way it potentially affects labor groups that offer multiemployer health insurance plans, which could disrupt health insurance for as many as 26 million union members.

    Okay I’m for….nope, still can’t see it. Even this cherry on top doesn’t turn this turd into a Sundae.

    1. And, look out if you happen to have “good” insurance now. That’s soon going to be called a “Cadillac Plan” and your employer will take a 40% hit of the insurance’s cost as a penalty. So, sorry if you are used to going to that good doctor down the street — you can only do so in the future if you pay straight cash for him. Everyone else will be forced to go to the same overcrowded, DMV-like clinics that take Medicaid, because God forbid anyone should have any better health care than anyone else.

      I keep hearing the argument that health care should be a right. You can also say that food should be a right, but no one is insisting we all can only have gruel. Shelter should be a right, but we all can’t demand to live on Park Avenue. So why is it that other basic “rights” like food, clothing and shelter can allow for different levels based on willingness to pay, but we are all expected to be identical participants in the same health care system???

  3. I’m very curious about how the law will affect premiums for smaller employers. Are insurers required to adhere to the “community rating” provisions in some form when it comes to small employer-based plans?
    In other words, say you have a small employer with a staff composed entirely of 20 year olds, and another small employer with a staff compoised entirely of 60 year olds. Will the insurers be forbidden from charging the 20 years olds company less than 1/3 the premiums they charge the other?

    If so, wouldn’t insurers be incentivized to start denying coverage to companies whose staff is “too old”? The same adverse selection problem that happens already under community rating? Or does guarenteed issue apply to employer-based plans not just individual plans?
    If so, will employers hiring mostly younger people get socked with huge premium increases?

    1. The guarantee issue provisions apply to small groups (

    2. Sorry, that didn’t take. Both the guarantee issue provision and the 3:1 age restrictions apply to small employers.

      1. Ok, so that basically means that small employers that employ a lot of younger people (which probably covers most restaurants, coffeeshops, and and cafes) are going to see huge premium increases. Which means they’ll probably cut down on hours to drop coverage. So younger people with part time jobs are going to be seeing fewer hours.

        1. As a side effect, that will mean that younger people with part-time jobs are more likely to have to buy insurance in the individual market, where they will probably get screwed over just as bad. Although they will likely qualify for subsidies, unless they have parents with health insurance.

  4. Millions of people will see their work and their workplace benefits disrupted, somehow, as a result of the law.


    /Nancy Pelosi

  5. She needs to coordinate her talking points with Donna Brazile.

    1. Speaking of brain-dead idiots….

  6. Every picture of Sebelius and The One looks more and more to me like they’re an item.

    Pretty sure he’s doin’ her on the desk in the Oval Orifice on a regular basis.


    1. Extra extremely huge dosage of Ewwww!

      1. That which is seen cannot be unseen, though you gouge out your very eyes….

        1. With white hot forks, in this case.

  7. Millions of people will see their work and their workplace benefits disrupted, somehow, as a result of the law.

    I blame Bush. And the obstructionist Rethuglicans.

    Next Faux News “issue”, Peter.

  8. The Myth That Obamacare Will Only Affect the Uninsured

    “Why is it that something we don’t understand is always called a thing?” – Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy

    WHy is it that something that is not true is always called “a myth”? Why not just call it a lie?

  9. I came to this thread to escape from that Tulpical thing, whatever it is.

    1. Welcome, friend. Put your boots by the fire and rest. Here’s a cup of [your beverage of choice]. Relax – the Tulpa can do you no harm here.

      /sanctuary city

      1. Dude, it’s not even Tulpa. It’s like Mary possessed Tulpa. The horror!

  10. Just over there to the left in 24/7:
    “Job Growth With Declining Hours Worked an Artifact of Obamacare”

  11. The Truth That Obamacare Will Only Uninsure the Affected


  12. I think I’m going to have to turn my heat on. It’s 69 in my house, in the middle of May! WTF? I’ve never had to turn my heat on in May before since I’ve lived in MD. I am not sure if I’ve even turned it on in April, but it would have been early April if I did.

    Where the fuck in Manbearpig? I’m gonna throttle that fat SOB.

    1. It barely got into the low 60’s today here in central Jersey, and it’s currently 38. There’s frost warnings for the whole northeast tonight. Thank God for Global Warming/Climate Change/Climate Disruption!!!!!(fill in the blank for the latest scare term as appropriate.) And yes, I know, weather isn’t climate, unless it’s warmer than average, or colder than average, or there’s flooding, or drought, or high winds, or earthquakes, or wildfires, and then it’s proof of (fill in the blank for the latest scare term as appropriate.)

  13. As soon as “Obamacare” was passed my Aetna health insurance went from $44 a week to $66 per week, and thanks to “Obamanomics” I went to 24 hours a week from 40 hours, which lead me to have to drop my health insurance.

    1. Like Rick said I’m amazed that I could earn $6569 a month in health care benefits under Obamacare.. http://www.hhs.gov

    2. Hello penaltax!

  14. This makes a lot of sense dude.


  15. “So is everyone who gets insurance from work not going to notice the law?”

    A lot of the people who become to expensive to keep on the payroll will never know exactly why they became unemployed. Their employer will find some good reason to let them go–and they’ll let their problem employees go first.

    Oh, and all those unemployed people who are never offered jobs because ObamaCare made it so expensive to bring them onto the payroll and give them insurance? They’ll never know why they were never offered a job either.

    They’ll think it’s because they don’t have a degree or somethin’.

    1. They’ll think it’s because they don’t have a degree or something

      Nope, Rethuglicans! The party of NO! If only the Rethuglican teabaggers would have given Obama everything he wanted, this would never have happened!

  16. Hmmm, all of a sudden I have to pay a working spouse surcharge for my wife, all out of pocket costs went up somewhere from 20% to 100%, my deductables doubled, and my rates went up around 10%.

    I’m sure this is an isolated incident and has nothing to do with Obamacare.

    1. Don’t look at the man behind that curtain!

    2. “Hmmm, all of a sudden I have to pay a working spouse surcharge for my wife, all out of pocket costs went up somewhere from 20% to 100%, my deductables doubled, and my rates went up around 10%.”


  17. My house insurance guy told me that his company wanted to raise rates and deductibles on people living south of I-10. Louisiana told them that was discrimination and they could not do it. Soooooo…they raised the rates and deductibles on everyone in the state. Brilliant move Louisiana.

    Then he said ” You cant believe how stupid government slugs are. We have really smart people. For the insurance company it is like taking candy from a baby. In the end they always get what they want.”

    Apply that scenario to the creation and implementation of Obozocare.

    1. Earthquake insurance in California was very cheap and a logical thing to buy if you lived on bedrock, which wasn’t going anywhere in an earthquake. But then the CA legislature said it wasn’t fair that people with houses on sand or landfill — which turn liquid in an earthquake, collapsing all above it — had to pay more than the people who lived on bedrock. So, like your Louisiana example, they raised everyone in the state’s rates to the landfill prices. Now no one can afford it, and it is purchased only by those who absolutely need it, or are required by their mortgages.

  18. Nothing to see here, move along

    The report found that individuals will face “premium increases of nearly 100 percent on average, with potential highs eclipsing 400 percent. Meanwhile, small businesses can expect average premium increases in the small group market of up to 50 percent, with potential highs over 100 percent.”

    1. Uh….if that is true there will be blood in the streets. I am not speaking metaphorically.

      People will come unglued. That will mean losing homes, savings, millions cast into poverty. That is beyond a disaster.

      1. It would be nice if libertarians and/or Republicans came up with a set of easily-explainable, convincing, free-market-oriented healthcare reforms to offer as a replacement for Obamacare in 2014.

        1. I feel like it’s been done ad nauseum for years, but the rose-tinted glasses progressives wear occlude anything by way of economic reason.

          1. ^This

          2. They don’t understand economic reasoning, but we’ll soon see if they learn anything when economic reality thwacks ’em upside their heads.

          3. Of course progressives will be against anything more free market, but there needs to be a plan (or two or three) with a memorable name, and a list of reforms that will sound like common sense to the voters in the middle. Sort of a 1994-style Contract With America regarding healthcare. If such plans are out there, they aren’t being trumpeted by Reason or politicians that I’ve noticed.

            Examples: Allow experimental drugs that can be dispensed without FDA approval. An end to “certificates of need” for medical facilities. Allowing nurses to do some things that only doctors can do now.

            1. I’m not familiar with the Contract with America, perhaps because I didn’t come of age prior to it’s advocacy but mostly because I’m drunk and cba to look it up. My thinking, however: if 1994 was a landmark year for turning things around, it ain’t showing.

              I lied, actually. I looked up the first few paragraphs on Wikipedia. This “60% issues” thing would dispense with at least two of the three examples you provide, and probably 3/3. I don’t think most Americans are prepared for healthcare delivery not fully regimented by intricate regulatory scaffolds. We’re still in an embryonic stage wrt reforming medical practices. And that’s what’s needed, not trimming around the hedges pretending that adjusting medicare compensation will fix longstanding problems with delivery.

              1. The Contract With America, and dissatisfaction with Clinton and the Democrats, cost the Dems the House for the first time in ages. Congress made some reforms that stuck, and some that didn’t (e.g. killing farm subsidies). I agree that fundamental changes are needed, but it’s crucial that they don’t sound scary to the average voter.

  19. “Large employers and their workers will probably see the smallest impact. . .”

    Undoubtably a (to the government) good side effect of the legislation is that it will make small businesses less competitive. After all who the hell wants to collect a million $1 bills individually when you can get a big pockets donor to fork it over all at once.

  20. FWIW:
    “[D]ecision that’s proving to be positive” or not, these people will certainly be affected.

  21. It’s not a “myth”, it’s a LIE.


  22. Since there isn’t a thing we can do about it, I’m going to wait and let things unfold. If Obamacare transitions seamlessly I’ll keep quiet. If it’s a train wreck then they’ve handed us the platform from which to shout for the destruction of all allegedly progressive Liberal policies. Stay tuned.

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