Here Comes The Small Business “Affordable” Care Act Bomb

Another day, another big concern with Obamacare

(Politico) Think the canceled health policies hurt the Obamacare cause? There’s another political time bomb lurking that could explode not too long before next year’s elections: rate hikes for small businesses.

Like the canceled individual health plans, it’s another example of a tradeoff that health care experts have long known about, as the new rules for health insurance prices create winners and losers. But most Americans won’t become aware of it until some small business employees learn that their premiums are going up because of a law called – oops – the Affordable Care Act.

Some will learn the opposite, that their premiums are going down because of the law. But as we saw with the canceled individual health plans, it’s the losers who will get most of the attention.

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And the timing will be terrible for Democrats: A lot of those small businesses will have to start dealing with their new prices in October – just in time for Republicans to make it an issue in their mid-term election campaigns.

As it is, small businesses are already dealing with issues such as moving employees to part-time, reticence to hire, and seeing their plans dropped.

Here’s why: Next year, small business health plans – generally those that cover less than 100 workers – will have to comply with a wide range of new rules, particularly the ones that say employees can’t be charged more if they have health problems. Their premiums will only vary based on their age, whether they have individual or family coverage, what part of the country they live in, and whether they use tobacco – and older workers won’t be able to be charged more than three times as much as younger ones.

Many companies wisely made changes early, allowing them to keep those old plans through 2014

But there will be a cluster of December renewals, industry officials say, and those small businesses will get the first look at their new prices in October – right at the height of an election that’s increasingly being framed as a referendum on the impact of Obamacare.

Obviously, Politico is Very Concerned as to how this will play out for Mr. Obama and Democrats come the midterms. That’s generally what Politico does. And they are concerned that not only will employees, mostly in those small businesses with 51-100 employees, see their premiums and deductibles spike, but that the companies will decide that it is more cost effective to dump the company health insurance offerings and pay the fine/tax/fee. But, hey, don’t worry, I’m sure that Obama will trot out his “nobody’s madder than me” line, and will surely blame Someone Else for daring to ….. bring the issue up.

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.

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