Obamacare Impact on Business Group Health Insurance in Georgia

Rob Johnson of WGST asked me during an interview how Obamacare had impacted Georgia business and their group health plans. My response was the impact is minimal  . . . so far. The big change will come in 2014 but Obamacrap has had some effect on group health insurance premiums.

Two provisions of Obamacrap that have already affected Georgia employer health plan rates are the "free" annual wellness exams and requiring most employers to cover dependent children up to age 26.

The second provision is quite odd to me since I did not consider myself a child at age 26 and still don't. If you had not moved out of the house when you finished school we had a break-the-plate celebration.

The idea is, if your dinner plate was broken you would find somewhere else to live and eat.

None the less, while the expansion of the definition of a child had an impact on rates, so far it has been minimal. I expect that might change over the next year as parents add on children that have expensive medical problems while the healthy children are left to fend for themselves.

If this happens, watch for dependent rates to rise as a reflection of the increased risk of high claims.

Most employer group health insurance plans in Georgia already had low cost, and in some cases, free annual exams any way. So the removal of a nominal copay of perhaps $30 and substituting "free" has not had an effect on premiums and probably won't.

From a risk standpoint, it is doubtful if more people will seek to have their annual exam simply because it is free. This is especially true for males who would rather take a beating than go to the doctor, especially if they are not sick.

The bigger impact on business health insurance premiums will come in 2014 when all employers with 50 or more employees will be subject to "play or pay" rules.

While yesterday's court ruling did not specifically address the employer mandate it stands to reason that this was an oversight, perhaps by those who brought the suit, to address the requirement that businesses must provide health insurance or pay a fine (tax).

I am not a Constitutional lawyer, and apparently neither is Obama or members of Congress,  but it would appear to me that if the INDIVIDUAL mandate (requiring individuals to buy health insurance or pay a tax) is unconstitutional, then the same should apply to the EMPLOYER mandate.

Starting in 2014 if individuals do not buy health insurance they are fined.

Starting in 2014 if employers (with 50+ employees) do not buy health insurance for their employees they are fined.

What is the difference?

To my untrained eye, nothing.

I want to thank Rob Johnson and the folks at AM 650 WGST in Atlanta for inviting me on their show. You can hear a portion of the show including the interview with Bob Vineyard of Georgia Insurance Shop as well as some real legal scholars by clicking on the link in my name and wait for the audio to begin.

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