Really both of those options kinda stink going forward. It's not like the old system was working all that well to begin with.
I agree. The problem is that Obamacare does not actually fix any of the existing problems. What it does it take those problems and make them worse, then attempt to wash over those problems by changing the method by which people pay for the care. It's a bait and switch. At the end of the day the "exchanges" are no different than the insurance market that already exists. They just put a name on them, and created state agencies (ie: more overhead) to help people connect to them. There were already free sources out there that did this (like say "find a doctor" type sites).
All that's really going on is that the new law puts lower limits on the coverage options themselves. A simple analogy would be if the government passed a law mandating that the minimum quality TV that could be sold in the US had to be a 50" flat screen, under the argument that it was unfair for people to have to put up with lower quality TVs (insert rhetoric about rich people being able to afford big TVs and poor people not). But how does that actually help someone who previously could not afford a 50" flat screen TV? Prior to the law, that person could buy a cheap 24" TV if that's all he could afford. Which, while not great, at least provide him with something. Now, he can't afford to buy any TV at all.
To carry the analogy further, imagine if previously your employer would provide you with a TV as part of your benefits. Of course, it was usually a cheap TV, but it was something, and you were free to pay more money to upgrade the quality of the TV you got if you wanted to. Now, the government mandate means that if the employer provides you with a TV, it must be at least a 50" one. Well, if that wasn't worth it before to the employer, it's probably still not worth it. So he may just drop the benefit. But it gets worse. The law also mandates that if the employer has over 50 full time employees, he must provide that high quality TV as a benefit. Hmmm... If the employer can reduce that number below the limit, he's off the hook, right? So now, you not only don't get the mediocre TV you were getting before but *also* have possibly gotten your hours (and pay) cut.
But wait! It gets worse. Even for those employers that have over 50 full time workers, they can choose to pay a fine instead of providing that expensive TV for their employees. Problem is that the fine is approximately half the cost of the minimum mandated TV. So.... Many will just do that instead.
And it gets even worse than that because the employee who's likely lost his health care because of this is *also* mandated to purchase a minimum quality TV (which is that 50" jobber that he couldn't afford at the beginning of all of this, right?). Now, if he's sufficiently poor (which is possible at this point given how badly he's been screwed over), the government might provide a subsidy to help him pay for this expensive TV, which may still be more than he can really afford. But if he's not quite poor enough yet, he has to pay full price. He doesn't even have a choice to buy a cheaper TV like he used to. It's been taken away from him.
And the final kicker. That employee can choose to not buy a TV at all. But if he does so, he has to pay a yearly fine. So basically he's paying for the privilege of *not* buying a TV. Great deal, right? Of course, if he ever needs a TV in the future, he can still buy one, but has to pay full price (for the expensive TV) at that point in time. The fine doesn't help him in any way. It's just paying money for nothing. So before he was paying a small amount for a small TV, and now he's paying a small amount for no TV.
And this is a good deal how, exactly? Edited, Oct 4th 2013 4:01pm by gbaji