It really wasn’t so long ago. Many would simply go to the family doctor and pay a standard office visit fee. And if you went to the hospital, you’d have to work out a payment arrangement for their services.
But then insurance became the thing to have in the 1950s and ’60s. Employers jumped into bed with HMOs in subsequent decades and were able to offer great wellness benefits to entice employees. Employees got used to the coverage, giving rise to insurance billing coding specialists — and, later, much higher health care fees for everyone.
It has become all so complicated.
Enter into the mix a new federal health care reform law set to phase in over the next few years.
The effects of the health care reform, known commonly as Obamacare, have been unexpected this year.
Wary of increasing costs of insuring employees, and of potential penalties for not doing so, businesses across the country have cut down the hours for many employees to below 30 per week. Thus arose a way to avoid having to offer employees health insurance benefits (and pay the expensive premiums), while also avoiding the penalty for doing so.
It is an unfortunate side effect of what was heralded as a solution to America’s health care crisis.
Now, people — many of whom are working to cobble together a living on near-minimum wage pay checks — have to take multiple part-time jobs at different companies. And they still don’t have the hope of company-sponsored health insurance.
This law, sadly, has even affected student workers at colleges. They have had their work-study hours cut back so they’re earning less money on campus to pay their way through school.
These side effects are just the start of what might be a long and painful journey for the American people.
Soon, individuals who aren’t covered by work-sponsored health insurance will be required to purchase insurance, or face penalties for not doing so. Yet, the databases of available insurances aren’t even available in most states, leaving people wondering how much they might have to pay, when they’ll be able to sign up and whether it’s even worth it.
President Obama’s administration and Congress are debating the pros and cons of pushing back deadlines for many of Obamacare’s coverage requirements, and should do so for individuals — not just big business — until such a time as these bitter pills become a little easier to swallow.
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner calls the health care law “a train wreck” that will only get worse. Seeing what’s happening now makes it hard to disagree with him.
It sure does seem that this train is on the wrong track, and likely has been for years.
Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Alex Doty and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to firstname.lastname@example.org or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.