According to a release from the University of Michigan, the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) is expected to change what heretofore has been a competitive disadvantage for small businesses seeking to secure the best employees. Helen Levy, a research associate professor with the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and School of Public Health, "That's going to be less of an issue now that workers will have the option of getting coverage from someone other than an employer," Levy said. "And we expect that to improve the quality of the worker job matches that are seen in the labor market, and that is good for everyone."
While the UM story admits that there have been public concerns about whether employers are going to drop health insurance coverage, it contends that most of the research on this question suggests that's not really a major cause for concern, according to Levy.
"Now we may see less coverage from employers for part-time workers, and they will be going to the exchanges," Levy said. "But in many cases, that is going to be a better deal for them because they can get access to a tax credit in the exchange that they wouldn't have been able to access if they continued to have employer-sponsored coverage."
By 2018, when the Affordable Care Act's health insurance exchanges are fully operational, an estimated 20 million people who purchase private health insurance through an exchange will receive a premium tax credit, costing the Treasury around $92 billion that year, Levy said.
That's in comparison to the $260 billion annual cost to the federal government of not collecting income tax on health insurance provided as a fringe benefit of employment. That makes up the bulk of private health insurance in the U.S. and covers roughly 170 million workers and dependents.
"Five years from now we are going have a functioning health insurance exchange system," Levy said. "I think it is going to be a valuable option for people and I think we are going to say, 'I can't believe it was ever not this way.'"
Some families have seen an increase in the cost of the premiums since the enactment of Obamacare. For example, some participants in Blue Shield coverage in California will see a minimum 11 percent increase in their premiums. Some participants are being hit with a $9,000 family deductible with no prescription drug coverage. In one case, a Blue Shield plan for a California family includes three doctor visits, with a $60 co-pay and a free wellness check. For additional coverage for conditions such as migraine headaches, participants will have to pay an additional $330 per month for an upgrade. Many individuals and families earn too much income in order to qualify for government healthcare subsidies.
In Michigan, similarly, one family saw their premium costs triple overnight and now have a $10,000 family deductible with a different plan.