Lisa Myers has an excellent investigative reporting piece up at NBC News documenting how one small business is dealing with Obamacare. The quotes from the article are just brutal:
The 41 employees of Extreme Dodge in Jackson, Mich., are very familiar with trade-ins, but this year they’re learning about trade-offs as they come face to face with the new realities of health care. A few workers say they’re getting a great deal, but most have a severe case of sticker shock.
“I feel like I’ve been taken to the cleaners,” said Neal Campbell, a salesman.
“How is this helping the average American that’s working 40 to 50 hours per week?” said Terry Hardcastle, a salesperson. “How are we supposed to live?”
Cathy Smith, who’d hoped she’d qualify for a subsidy and made just a little too much money, had tears in her eyes. “You don’t make that much money to begin with,” she said, “and the prescriptions are going to kill me.”
“There are some people who do come out ahead, but I would say the overwhelming majority, they’re paying much higher rates and they have lower benefits.”
Among the hardest hit is Campbell, a salesman with a wife and three young children, all of whom are active in athletics. The premium payments currently deducted weekly from his paycheck will increase $77, to a total of $221 per week. “That’s a huge part of the budget,” he said. “We feel betrayed, lied to, and we’re pissed off.”
Myers does report that, “A handful of the Extreme Dodge workers came out winners — mostly low-wage earners who qualify for subsidies and therefore pay very little for insurance.” But even those who think they come out ahead today should think again. If they happen to get a raise, or get married, the IRS could come back and demand all those subsidies back. Politico reports:
A key piece of the health care law gives Americans making less than 400 percent of the poverty line subsidies to buy insurance. But if buyers don’t alert the insurance exchanges to big life changes throughout the year — like a divorce, promotion or new job for them or a spouse— they could wind up with sticker shock at tax time.
All experts interviewed on the topic worried that most tax credit recipients do not have a clue about the new reporting responsibilities, noting that even policymakers are still trying to grasp how the process works.
In California alone, 38 percent of tax credit recipients are projected to have to pay back more than $850 — if no income changes are reported during the year, according to a September Health Affairs study.
Remember: President Obama delayed the employer mandate till 2015. So most Americans who have employer-sponsored health insurance really have not felt the Obamacare pain yet. That will change as more and more businesses make the same types of decisions Extreme Dodge did above. And when they do, Obamacare’s approval ratings can only go down.