As October approaches, officials and residents are preparing to begin the enrollment period for health care exchanges. MagnaCare COO Tom Considine told NJ Today Managing Editor Mike Schneider that there would have been change in the country’s health care system with or without the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. He said that the new law will increase costs, however.
“Clearly big hospital providers and big group providers knew that the changing economics were such that they were gonna have to change. Was this law the the thing that was gonna make them change faster? It was, whether or not the law is a good thing or a bad thing,” Considine said. “He [President Obama] chose to call it the Affordable Care Act. Never was there a bigger oxymoron.”
Considine said he believes health care costs will increase for individuals buying insurance, except for those receiving subsidies. “The reason for that is, you take a program that requires more benefits and it adds a sicker cohort of individuals into the program and you provide more benefits to those people,” he said.
MagnaCare is involved in the self insured market so its customers design their own benefit plan and charge employees what they wish. “When I’m out speaking at different seminars there’s a lot more employers coming to me and saying, ‘If I could just get past the recruitment and retention issues for employees I’d certainly be interested in sending my employees to the exchanges,’” Considine explained.
According to Considine, more employers are looking to pare down their plans to make them more affordable, which means employees have to pay more either in upfront costs from their paychecks or in higher copays and deductibles. He added that another trend is for employers to refuse coverage of a spouse who has access to primary coverage from their employer.
Some members of the Republican Party have advocated for defunding the Affordable Care Act. Considine disagrees with that. “I think it injects more uncertainty into the market. And quite frankly I think they’d be better fully funding it even for their own wishes. If they’re fully confident that Obamacare’s gonna fail, then let it fail on its own merits. Don’t have a law out there and don’t have companies obligated to implement it and then defund it. Then it’s gonna be unwieldy and unworkable,” he said.
When asked what message he would like to get out to the public, Considine said, “There are a lot of options out there in the workplace and you always have the option as an employer to consider self funding your health plan. It gives you much more flexibility than remaining in the commercially insured plan does.”