Since its inception, I have been resolute in my staunch opposition to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly referred to as ObamaCare. As a physician, I knew it would hinder access to medical care, as well as reduce the overall quality of care.
Unfortunately, many of the negative consequences I was worried about have already been imposed on Tennessee patients and health care providers. Even those in the mainstream media who openly support the president’s law have had to report on its numerous and undeniable shortcomings.
But the problems created by the Affordable Care Act will have implications far beyond the realm of medicine. The economic effects the law will have on both families and businesses are just as troubling.
As has been widely reported, many families in Tennessee – and throughout our country – have already started paying higher premiums as a result of the ACA. This trend will only continue as the provisions of the law are fully implemented. The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) found that the average family of four will see their health care spending increase by $7,450 under the president’s law. This is money that could use for things like investing in children’s education, making home repairs or just paying the bills. With median income in Tennessee hovering at $38,475, families simply cannot afford this drastic increase.
Businesses will also have to cut back due to ObamaCare’s mandate that all businesses with 50 or more full-time employees must provide health insurance or pay a steep penalty. This is especially onerous as the ACA lowered the amount of hours considered part-time from forty to thirty hours, meaning previous part-time workers are now considered full-time. As a result, businesses have refused to hire more than 50 employees or they have slashed hours because they simply cannot afford the costs of offering insurance to all full-time workers. Not only does this affect our economic productivity, it hurts low-income workers.
And this is only the beginning. Research conducted by McKinsey & Company estimates that half of businesses will change how they provide health insurance. This means that more and more Americans will be unable to keep their coverage or will be forced to buy more expensive options on the health insurance exchanges. Even labor unions, who were among the strongest supporters of the Affordable Care Act, have stated the law hurts workers by increasing costs.
Time and time again we have seen the promises made by President Obama when selling this law to the American people come up short. He told us health care costs would go down by $2,500 for a family of four; in reality they have increased by more than twice that amount. He told us that if we liked our doctor and our plan, we could keep it. But with companies dropping coverage, many are being dumped onto the health care exchanges. He told us jobs would be created by this law, but the ACA has already decreased jobs by nearly seven figures according to the Congressional Budget Office.
The combined economic consequences of the ACA threaten to decimate any sort of economic recovery we have seen over the past couple years. Further, the costs imposed by the law on Tennessee families could not come at a worse time. The ACA is unsustainable, eventually it will collapse. The only question is whether we allow our economy to be dragged down with it.