Human Events Blog

Affordable Care Act ruling: health insurance doesn’t have to be “affordable” after all

ObamaCare’s final descent into absolute farce is complete, according to the New York Times:

In a long-awaited interpretation of the new health care law, the Obama administration said Monday that employers must offer health insurance to employees and their children, but will not be subject to any penalties if family coverage is unaffordable to workers.

The requirement for employers to provide health benefits to employees is a cornerstone of the new law, but the new rules proposed by the Internal Revenue Service said that employers’ obligation was to provide affordable insurance to cover their full-time employees. The rules offer no guarantee of affordable insurance for a worker’s children or spouse.

To avoid a possible tax penalty, the government said, employers with 50 or more full-time employees must offer affordable coverage to those employees. But, it said, the meaning of “affordable” depends entirely on the cost of individual coverage for the employee, what the worker would pay for “self-only coverage.”

So the “Affordable Care Act” isn’t really concerned with making health insurance “affordable” at all.  It’s really more of an unaffordable bureaucracy act.  George Orwell would be so proud.

So what happens to all those unaffordable dependents?

The new rules, to be published in the Federal Register, create a strong incentive for employers to put money into insurance for their employees rather than dependents. It is unclear whether the spouse and children of an employee will be able to obtain federal subsidies to help them buy coverage — separate from the employee — through insurance exchanges being established in every state. The administration explicitly reserved judgment on that question, which could affect millions of people in families with low and moderate incomes.

(Emphasis mine.)  Oh, I think Obama and his power-hungry Party will become clear on that point, soon enough.  It’s another “fiscal cliff” in the making, in which the helpless victims of a Big Government takeover will happily slip on blindfolds and submit themselves as hostages to Big Government’s demands for even more spending.  Tax credits for the lower echelons of the middle class will blow even more of them completely off the income tax rolls, shifting the taker-vs.-maker balance even further towards the takers, and their eager statist champions.  A crisis created by socialism will once again be exploited for the benefit of socialism.

There’s an awful lot of bureaucratic power contained in these rulings:

In writing the law, members of Congress often conjured up a picture of employees working year-round at full-time jobs. But in drafting the rules, the I.R.S. wrestled with the complex reality of part-time, seasonal and temporary workers.

In addition, the administration expressed concern that some employers might try to evade the new requirements by firing and rehiring employees, manipulating their work hours or using temporary staffing agencies. The rules include several provisions to prevent such abuse.

I can’t wait to see the kind of regulatory apparatus it takes to shoot small businesses off the barbed-wire fences of ObamaCare when they try to escape.  Be extra-nice to the harried commissars when they swing by to review your business practices for faithful and spirited compliance!

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