In his brilliant exposition of why sweeping policy changes often have unintended consequences, the late sociologist Robert K. Merton wrote that leaders get things wrong when their “paramount concern with the foreseen immediate consequences excludes the consideration of further or other consequences” of their proposals. This leads policy makers to assert things that are false, wishing them to be true.
Which brings us to President Obama’s many claims about his health-care reform. Take his oft-expressed statement that if you like the coverage you have, you can keep it. That sounds good—but perverse incentives in his new law will cause most Americans to lose their existing insurance.
This was brought home to me when I asked the CEO of a major restaurant chain about health reform’s effect on his company, which now spends $25 million a year on employee health insurance. That will jump to at least $90 million a year once the new law is phased in. It will be cheaper, he told me, for the company to dump its coverage and pay a fine—$2,000 for each full-time worker—and make sure that no part-time employee accidentally worked 31 hours and thereby incurred the fine.
This reality is settling in at businesses across America. A Midwestern contractor told me he pays $588,000 for health insurance for 70 employees, contributing up to $8,400 a year for a family’s coverage. If he stops providing health insurance, he’ll pay $2,000 per employee in fines, and the first 40 employees are exempt from fines altogether.
It’s also dawning on employees that they will lose their coverage. Some will blame management; many more will blame those who wrote this terrible legislation.
OK, so now your employer is no longer providing your coverage. What do you do?
You go on the dole. You have to go get a government hand-out:
Employees who lose coverage get to select a policy from a government-sponsored insurance marketplace called the “exchange.” This will be subsidized by taxpayers. Depending on his income, a worker will have to pay between 8% and 9.8% of the cost.
Where does the rest come from? The taxpayer pays for it. So, effectively, Obama has just put everyone on a government run health care plan.
That’s what he wanted to do all along. He just didn’t want you to realize what was going on.