Affordable, perhaps, simple, not so sure

By Reade Brower | Apr 10, 2014

“A society that has more justice is a society that needs less charity," — Ralph Nader, poet, activist, author, speaker, and attorney (b. 1934).

Having insurance should be the right of all individuals in any society. I can’t imagine a medicine man refusing to treat his neighbor in underdeveloped countries or in olden times. Why shouldn’t health care be affordable and available to all at a reasonable price in a so-called “civilized” society?

As the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, follows the path of implementation, its momentum seems to be growing, albeit slowly. In the recent poll from ABC News and Washington Post, 49 percent now backed the law, with the biggest gains coming from conservatives (now at 36 percent approval verses a low of 17 percent).

As a business owner, I have spent some time trying to figure out how to best handle this for our companies. There are so many choices it has become “clear as mud” on choosing a direction.

The goal is simple: how do we optimize the new law to keep our costs down and, most importantly, keep our associates at least even with where they are now, hopeful that they will see some financial benefit as the roll out continues.

Though the goal is simple, the answers are not. For many, we are seeing they would be better off going to health exchange and purchasing their own insurance, rather than taking the company plan.

One choice would be to quit our current business coverage and instead just offer a “benefits package” that would be financial in nature and perhaps help the associates more, without adding to our current costs.

From what I’ve seen, if we fit into the small business category, that might be the way to go. However, because of my involvement in several businesses, we now fit into the large group coverage adding a layer of complication. If we were to offer a benefit package instead of insurance, I might now face an annual penalty of $120,000.

If you are having trouble following this, welcome to my world.

And welcome to the reality of the situation.

I believe the ACA is on a foundation of common sense so I am in the 49 percent. I believe that it offers insurance to those in the entry levels of the pay scale at very affordable rates, but its rules are somewhat ambiguous and, like our tax code, could be simplified.

With an open mind, we will try and continue to walk this path together with our associates to find the best “win-win” that ACA offers.

Politics muddy the water and it is no more evident than looking at the numbers from the poll I mentioned above. That ABC/Washington Post poll tells us that 76 percent of Democrats favor the plan while only 20 percent of Republicans feel the same.

Isn’t there simply something wrong with this? Shouldn’t we all be pulling in the same direction and offering alternatives that both sides agree are pushing us forward? Isn’t that the common sense approach?

Politics are very interesting because the statement that we elect our politicians to serve us is really an oxymoron. If they served us, then most of their time would be spent doing just that, serving us.

Instead, they spend a good deal of their time posturing and thinking about election, and then reelection.

I do find politics interesting. Watching the ebb and flow of the ACA is a microcosm of politics.

I think the Republicans lost a lot of ground over the budget fight and government shutdown earlier this year but they have changed tact and rebounded pretty nicely by just "being quiet."

Perhaps that is the way to win in politics (being quiet) because I think the Democrats lost a lot of their momentum when the ACA struggled during the early phases of implementation. Since then, the president has had a quiet resolve to move his ACA initiative forward and he is seeing a rebound as well.

Politics for the people, by the people. What a refreshing thought that would be as we enter into an election cycle.

Turn the page. Peace out, Reade.

Reade Brower can be reached at: reade@freepressonline.com.

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