Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

October 18, 2013

JIM BUCK: There'll be winners, losers under Obamacare

Obamacare clearly will hinder employers

Kokomo Tribune

---- — For many Ameri-cans, Obama-care remains a mystery. In a recent national poll, nearly 70 percent of respon-dents said they don’t understand the law.

But for some Hoosiers, the impact of Obamacare will become clearer in the coming weeks, as they sign up to buy health insurance through the online marketplace set up by the federal government. Enrollment began Oct. 1, with coverage set to begin Jan. 1.

This marketplace is mainly designed for those who do not receive health insurance through their jobs. In an effort to provide insurance coverage to more of these Americans, the health-care law provides tax credits to certain income-eligible individuals who buy insurance from the marketplace.

What consumers will pay for insurance in the online marketplace will vary widely depending on variables like income, age and where they live. In general, lower-income individuals and people in poor health will be able to pay less out of pocket for insurance than it currently costs because of federal tax credits.

Unfortunately, the law places new, heavy regulations on all insurance plans, like limits on the premium discounts people can receive for maintaining good health. These regulations mean that many middle-class, healthy Hoosiers will pay higher premiums than they do now — even if they buy insurance through the federal marketplace and receive tax credits to help cover costs.

And for every person who saves money on health insurance because of an Obamacare tax credit, there will be other Americans paying the difference through higher taxes. People might feel this aspect of Obamacare less directly than an increase or decrease in their insurance premiums, but there’s no doubt that the law’s new taxes are already affecting the economy.

An example of this is the law’s tax on employers that do not offer affordable health insurance to full-time employees. The idea behind this is that employers will find money in their operations to pay fines implemented by Obamacare or begin offering insurance coverage. In this economy — where businesses are already financially burdened — employers like Indiana University Health and various Indiana school districts are cutting workers’ hours and even laying people off to avoid the tax because they can’t afford this additional expense.

The employer fine is part of a patchwork of new taxes in Obamacare: an $8 billion tax on the health-insurance industry, a $3 billion tax on the pharmaceutical industry, a new sales tax on medical device manufacturers and a tax on indoor tanning services, just to name a few. These taxes will increase operating costs for those companies that have to pay them, giving them less money to provide services and hire people.

Obamacare is a mystery, and while no one can predict exactly how the law will personally affect their lives and finances, it is clear that this federal solution to providing health care to the nation creates new taxes and hinders employers, which will make it more difficult for struggling Americans to find the jobs they need to become self-sufficient.

State Sen. Jim Buck, R-Kokomo, represents Howard and Tipton counties, and portions of Grant, Hamilton and Clinton counties. Contact him at senator.buck@iga.in.gov.