December 04, 2013 - In Part 1, "Confusion spreads locally over Obamacare," Oakland County physician Dr. James O'Neil spoke in favor of a heath savings plan rather than forcing individuals to obtain government mandated policies.This week we take another look at the ACA.
Next week in part 3 we will cover proponents of ACA.
In addition to continuing litigation cases, economist David Littmann predicts Americans will begin traveling more and more overseas for health care.
Litigation cases challenging the ACA will arise, such as a recent Supreme Court Case with Hobby Lobby-which challenges the ACA claiming it violates constitutional rights, said Littmann, who has penned guest editorials for The Wall Street Journal, Detroit News, and Detroit Regional Chamber, serves on the Mackinaw Center for Public Policy, and retired as chief economist for Comerica Bank.
Hobby Lobby, which is a family owned company challenged the ACA over the requirements which include being mandated to offer birth control in health care policies. Hobby Lobby, a Christian owned company, is fighting a birth control mandate requiring employers to include contraceptive coverage to insurance policies.
A clear case of violating freedom of religion, Littmann said.
Another lawsuit was brought to the United States Supreme Court by Liberty University, a Christian University, over similar issues related to birth control was rejected.
Littmann said these types of legal cases will continue.
"I expect litigation cases over the ACA based on violating American's constitutional rights will keep coming," he said.
"They will try to show the ACA is against freedom of speech and freedom of religion," said Littmann.
Litmann predicts companies and groups will come forward to show that their company or firms rights are being violated by being forced to comply with federal mandates that violate constitutional rights.
"They will try to show that is a violation and freedom of religion," said Littmann.
Littmann said he has spoken with many doctors and insurance company representatives regarding the ACA.
"America does have the best healthcare in the world," said Littmann. "But I'm afraid the ACA will really damage the healthcare system in the United States."
Littmann also said financing the ACA is unsustainable and noted that money has already been borrowed out of program like Medicaid and medicare system.
"It's just unsustainable," said Littmann. "It will fail because of cost overruns and corruption. It also violates the individual choice about what people choose to spend their money on."
Littmann said the only way the ACA will not be successful is if people are able to win litigation suits showing they have been harmed.
"They need to prove their income and lifestyles are being irreparably injured and harmed," he said.
Not only is funding the ACA unsustainable financially and a violation of constitutional rights, it's one area of Americans lives the government has no business being involved in-something Clarkston doctor James O'Neill told The Clarkston News last week.
"There are some things the government should not be involved in-one of them being one of the most intimate things and that is healthcare," said Littmann.
"When you look at other government health care systems across the world there are always two things that happen and that's one they fail and two they get overrun with costs," said Littmann.
O'Neill also said the power of medicine should remain in the hands of Americans.
"Power to the people," said O'Neill.
A brief look at the ACA
-Plans offered on the healthcare marketplace website include bronze, silver, gold, platinum and catastrophic coverage.
-There are different levels of coverage to choose from in the Online Health Care Insurance Exchange. Policies with higher deductibles will offer lower premiums. If a policy is chosen with a lower deductible-it will require paying a higher premium.
Problems have riddled the governments healthcare website,
-None of the five levels of plans cover 100 percent of medical care costs. The highest plan offered will cover an estimated 90 percent of costs, but the most affordable plan, which is a catastrophic coverage covers minimal health care costs.
-Medicaid a program for over age 65, and Medicare are both assistance in which some costs are paid for out of federal and state funding. In November, The Washington Post reported that most people who signed up on the healthcare.gov website were signing up for one of these programs. These programs will be expanded.
-Families and individual covered by an employer are considered covered and do not have to visit the marketplace unless they want to explore health care coverage options. However those covered by insurance at work could lose contributions towards health care costs paid by the employer.
Families or individuals who do not enroll in a health care plan by January 2014 will be penalized. The penalty is $95 for each adult, $47.50 per child, or one percent of the family income—whichever figure is higher.
Each year fines will increase after March 31, 2014 for those who do not enroll in a health plan.
Exemptions do apply under some circumstances.
Health care plans offered by employers must also meet ACA minimum standards.
An employer plan is considered "affordable" if premiums and costs are 9.5 percent or less of their income.
Federal subsidies will be offered to individuals who meet a financial requirement of income making 400 percent below poverty income. Some individuals in poverty meeting such requirements will find their out of pocket expenses at no cost.
Even individuals eligible for government benefits may pay 9.5 percent of their income for health insurance coverage.
Minimum employer health care coverage plan requirements must cover at least 60 percent of medical costs leaving the patient to pay 40 percent of costs.
HHS.gov claims the ACA will improve the quality and lower healthcare costs, offer consumer protections and better access to healthcare. ACA plans will prevent against healthcare fraud, cover per-existing conditions, offer customer assistance, offer small business tax credits, and offer RX discounts to seniors as well as cover many preventative care services.
Other benefits of the ACA include providing better benefits to women, strengthening Medicare, and holding insurance companies accountable if premiums are raised over 10 percent.
Most employees eligible for health care through their employer are not eligible for government subsidies if the employers insurance meets the ACA standards of care.
Preventative care coverage and other benefits of ACA
-Under the ACA many preventative services are covered like immunizations, no-cost health screenings and many more preventative services.
-ACA ends the lifetime limit of health care coverage costs.
-Patients with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied health care coverage.
-Adults up to the age of 26 can remain on their parent's insurance policy under certain conditions.
Technical problems have riddled the healthcare.gov website, but as of the end of November the Obama administration said some kinks had been worked out and more people should be able to sign up for a health care plan.
The Oakland Livingston Human Service Agency (OLHSA) in Pontiac provides a certified counselor to assist anyone needing help with the healthcare marketplace.
Clinton Davis, who works with OLHSA in Pontiac, has helped many people navigate and enroll in the ACA.
Davis said most of the people he has encountered have come into the session knowing exactly what kind of plan they wanted, but had no idea how to navigate the website.
"Before last week there were troubles," said Davis. "The site was slow to load did not give a lot of information about various plans."
"This week the website has been loading quicker and offering more information," he said.
Davis said since last week, the healthcare.gov website has been moving a lot faster.
Anyone can come in to OLHSA and take the free ACA classes that are being offered through December and January.
"We are offering everyone enrollment workshops throughout this month and next," said Davis.
To enroll in a class call Davis at 248-209-2657.
According to an online tool at CNN Money, outlining what a mid level health insurance policy will cost before government tax subsidies, Vermont comes in with the highest premiums at $413 while Minnesota comes in with the least cost at $154. Michigan is at mid-range prices at $224.
Part 3 of the ACA in next week's Clarkston News
Staff writer covering Independence Township and Clarkston area.