Let's say you're a small business owner who not only offers health insurance to your employees, but you pick up part of the tab for the premiums. Under our current system, both you and your employees are paying top dollar for that coverage because small group plans are much more expensive than those that are available to large groups (ie, big businesses with lots of employees).
Another thing that is not available to small groups is the ability to offer options to employees. That too is reserved for only large groups. As the business owner, you currently have to buy a one-size-fits-all plan for everyone - regardless of their different situations and needs.
Of course like most Americans, both you and your employees are dependent on the plan the company offers because buying health insurance on the individual market is cost prohibitive.
All of these things change come October this year when the health insurance exchanges are scheduled to open for individuals and small businesses (they'll later be available to everyone).
The really big idea behind the exchanges is that it allows people to buy health insurance as part of a bigger pool and thus will make the costs more comparative to those currently available only to large businesses. So if all works as planned, the cost to both you and your employees should come down as the exchanges grow to cover more and more people.
But what about the idea of opening up options? If rates in the exchanges are the same regardless of whether you're joining as a group or an individual, at some point the question you might ask yourself as a business owner is whether or not its best to continue purchasing a group plan or simply give your employees a set dollar amount and allow them to buy their own coverage as an individual on the exchange. That way they can buy the insurance that best meets their needs.
Perhaps now you're beginning to see how Obamacare might introduce some radical changes in how health insurance works in this country. If this scenario pans out - it would be a GIANT step towards de-coupling health insurance from employment - not to mention increased competition among plans because individuals will have more freedom to chose what they want rather than be dependent on their employer.
To repeat VP Biden's infamous reaction...that's a BFD!!!!
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