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Facts of Obamacare: Inside Look at the Pros and Cons of the New Health Law

An incredibly complex piece of legislation, the Affordable Care Act, also termed Obamacare, enacts sweeping reforms that involve every state, millions of dollars, and millions of Americans. Here are some facts about Obamacare you may not have known — both the good and the bad.

How will the ACA effect small businesses?

The Bad: Many opponents of Obamacare, most recently the union leaders that once supported it, are concerned that Obamacare’s employer mandate incentivizes smaller companies to shift their workers to part-time status because employers are not required to provide health coverage to part-time workers. Three of the nation’s largest unions sent a letter to House and Senate Democratic leadership last week claiming that Obamacare would “shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40-hour workweek that is the backbone of the American middle class.”

The Good: The employer mandate has been delayed until 2015, meaning this push-back may stop businesses from cutting workers’ hours to avoid having to cover employees that work more than 30 hours a week. According to ObamaCarefacts.com, only 0.2% of businesses nationwide have more than 50 employees that don’t already offer health insurance to full-time workers. The tax fine associated with the employer mandate also isn't paid for a qualifying business’s first 30 workers. Providing insurance to this group of unemployed, full-time workers is the only employer mandate in the bill.

How will the ACA affect the future of the health care workforce?

The Bad: According to a study completed by the Association of American Medical Colleges, America is projected to have a shortage of 91,500 doctors by the year 2020 due in part to an overwhelming negative view that many of them have on Obamacare. In fact, a survey completed by The Doctors Company, found that 60% of doctors feel that the pressure to reduce costs, increase volume, and improve quality will have a negative effect on patient care, causing 43% of physicians to also contemplate early retirement.

The Good: According to the Department of Health and Human Services, Obamacare is improving existing care facilities and increasing employment among the health care workforce. The law has funded 190 construction and renovation projects at health centers, and will support over 485 new construction and renovation projects at health centers with 245 completely new centers in the next two years. These projects are estimated to serve almost 4 million people. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services projects that the community health center provision of the law will create nearly 19,000 new jobs, including positions staffing the new facilities.

How much does the American public know regarding the implementation of ACA?

The Bad: Obamacare is really happening. According to a Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll, 42% of Americans in general are unaware that the law is being implemented, while 51% of Americans ages 18-29 are unaware that the bill was signed into law in March 2010. The most commonly cited sources of information about the law were from friends and family (named by 40%), “newspapers, radio or other online news” (36%), and cable news (30%). About 10% of Americans report getting any information from a health insurance company, their doctor, an employer, or a non-profit, and few name any of these as their most important source of information about the law or how the exchanges will affect their health plans. The public remains divided on how they view the overall goals of Obamacare, with 35% reporting a favorable view, 40% an unfavorable view, and a full 24% reporting they have no opinion on the law.

The Good: Obamacare is really happening. People can begin signing up for state-run health insurance exchanges on October 1, 2013 when states and the federal government will open marketplaces to offer subsidized benefits to the nation’s 50 million uninsured. Under these subsidized benefits, eligible families will receive a form of cost assistance toward health insurance premiums taken off their Gross Taxable Income, for those under 400% of the poverty line. Some states, such as Minnesota, have already begun to provide health insurance premium estimators to shows estimated premiums and eligibility for Mediciaid based on family size and household income.

Seventy-seven days remain until those looking to buy individual health insurance can enroll in subsidized plans offered through state-based exchanges, with coverage beginning in January 2014. The closer the law gets to implementation, the more details surface about just how Obamacare will, or won’t work for America.

It looks like House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi was right. Congress did have to pass the law in order to see what was in it, but many are wondering at what expense.

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