Home Depot has just announced that it will be switching some 20,000 part-time employees to public health exchanges now that they will no longer be able to offer the limited plan they had been using. Their limited liability plan will not be available due to provisions in the new Affordable Healthcare Act which goes into action as of December 31. Trader Joes also announced a similar move recently and other large companies are following suit.
In Home Depot’s case, they will continue to provide healthcare coverage to their full-time employees (about 320,000 people) but not all companies are even doing that. One of the major provisions of Obamacare is the establishment of public health exchanges that will allow individuals to buy their insurance directly. With government tax credits and increased competition, it is hoped that more people will be able to get coverage for a more reasonable price.
How this will all shake out remains to be seen and some companies are using this change in law to simply dump their plans altogether and drop their employees into the exchanges en masse. Some companies are offering a certain amount of money to such employees to help them with costs, but if that subsidy doesn’t rise each year, more employees will end up paying more out of pocket. Of course many companies charge employees more each year when they do provide coverage since there doesn’t seem to be any way for the government to keep the HMOs from increasing rates every year. In the final analysis Obamacare will likely help more people than the current system, but it could have done a great deal more had it not been gutted under intense lobbying from big pharma and the healthcare industry.
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