There's an interesting Q&A in today's Business section explaining some of the finer points of what the passage of so-called "Obamacare" might mean for owners of small businesses.
Bill Frist, a heart surgeon writing in The Week magazine describes how the Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare will affect every American citizen:
If you are poor, the ruling may decide whether or not you have coverage. If you are not poor, it will impact how much you pay for health care. If you own a small business, it might determine if you must purchase health insurance for your employees. And if you work for a large business, it may determine whether you still receive your insurance from your employer. If you're a doctor, it will likely affect your reimbursement. If you're a patient, it will determine your benefits . . . . This one is worth following. It will be a game-changer. And not just for the politicians and pundits in Washington. It's a game-changer for you, too.
In a blog on the U.S. News & World Report Web site, Phil Moeler describes how Obamacare might affect seniors:
Older Americans in their 50s and early 60s who are too young to qualify for Medicare often face enormous challenges—and costs—finding private health insurance. Losing the individual mandate could hurt their health insurance prospects, depending on whether the court also rules on related provisions of the act.
Beyond the individual mandate, the law's most significant shift is its requirement that insurers must sell policies to anyone who applies, and can no longer refuse to insure a person because of preexisting health conditions. It is hard to imagine the court invalidating the individual mandate while still forcing private insurers to approve all applicants. Again, the impact on seniors of these provisions affects non-Medicare coverage.
In a blog on Forbes.com, Avik Roy talks about how passage of the bill might affect young workers:
Many of the people who go uninsured are young people. The young are just entering the work force, and therefore typically have below-average incomes. In addition, the young are healthy, and have much less use for expensive health insurance.
Obamacare forces insurers to charge their eldest beneficiaries no more than 3 times what they charge their youngest ones: a policy known as “community rating.” This, despite the fact that these older beneficiaries typically have six times the health expenditures that younger people face. The net effect of this “community rating” provision is the redistribution of insurance costs from the old to the young.
Also on Forbes.com, David Whelan and Brian Wingfield talk about how Obamacare might affect those with different types of insurance.
For those who buy their own private insurance, they predict:
The market for individual and small business insurance plans is where health care is the most dysfunctional and the root of the swelling ranks of uninsured. There's a lot of good news here. If you suffer from a pre-existing condition that prevented you from getting an affordable policy in the past, those days are over. Also, individuals and families buying coverage through the state-run exchanges in the Senate bill may be eligible for large subsidies if they make less than four times the federal poverty level. Otherwise, buying insurance for one's self will likely be similar, though perhaps cheaper because the private exchanges will cut out expensive middleman brokers.
In the Wall Street Journal, Dr. Scott Gottlieb opines about how Obamacare will affect doctors:
While the public option is meant for the uninsured, employers will realize it's easier -- and cheaper -- to move employees into the government plan than continue workplace coverage . . . . As patients shift to a lower-paying government plan, doctors' incomes will decline by as much as 15% to 20% depending on their specialty. Physician income declines will be accompanied by regulations that will make practicing medicine more costly, creating a double whammy of lower revenue and higher practice costs, especially for primary-care doctors who generally operate busy practices and work on thinner margins.
This tool from the White House allows you to select the situation that best describes you and purports to explain how Obamacare will affect you personally.