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Letter to the Editor: Affordable Care Act just a step toward single-payer system

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opinion Perham, 56573
Perham Minnesota 222 2nd Avenue SE 56573

Did you know that a new IRS regulation not passed by Congress prevents employers from reimbursing their employees for the cost of health insurance premiums if the employees go into the insurance market to buy their own insurance? Also, employees cannot be sent to government exchanges and then have employers reimburse them for the coverage. 

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An employee cannot have an after-tax amount applied toward health coverage or take that amount in cash compensation because, under the rules, an employer payment plan does not include these options, which were totally appropriate before Obamacare came into existence.

The IRS says “employer payment plans” that reimburse employees do not comply with the so-called Affordable Care Act  because they do not prohibit annual limits on 10 essential health benefits, nor do they include the requirement to provide preventive care without cost-sharing.

Penalties for non-compliance are outrageous. If employers reimburse their employees, the IRS will impose fines on employers of $100 per day, per employee. That comes to $36,500 per employee, per year.

Now why would the administration and the proponents of Obamacare not allow employers to send employees to the government exchanges? Could it be that employees might figure out that coverage through the exchanges might have very narrow networks of doctors and hospitals and, in fact, is not private insurance at all? Like Medicare, they have to apply to the federal government for coverage.

For employer-sponsored coverage to be classified as “affordable,” it cannot cost more than 9.5 percent of family income. If someone does not have coverage through their employer, insurance is not “affordable” if it costs more than 8 percent of his or her income.

It appears that the proponents of this legislation are counting on individuals with employer-sponsored coverage to pay more into the redistribution scheme than others.

Yes, I said the dirty word:  redistribution. U.S. Senator Max Baucus knows it is. He was quoted in an interview after the bill passed as saying: Obamacare “will have the effect of addressing the mal-distribution of income in America.”

We are heading for a single-payer system that will not make our health care system better, will cost the taxpayers more, will cost individuals more and there will be no choices left for us to make.

So what happened to the statements: “If you like your current healthcare coverage, you can keep it; if you like your doctor, you don’t have to give up your doctor; if you like your insurance coverage, you can keep it.”

Why are we standing for this? The Affordable Care Act forces many of us to purchase coverage we don’t need, which is more expensive and where health care choices are limited. And we have a government agency creating the rules, policing the health care system and imposing the penalties.

There will be fewer doctors and fewer choices. States are already shuddering at the thought of more folks (including employees who may qualify for Medicaid) enrolling in the Medicaid program that puts a huge financial burden on the states.

What else is in the bill that we don’t know about? What other rules will be put in place by bureaucrats and not voted on by our Congress? How will our children and grandchildren be treated under this health care system?

Hilda Bettermann

Co-chair, Alexandria Lakes Area Tea Party

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