The Department of Health and Human Services recently launched its new website, www.healthreform.gov, to serve as an informative source on what’s to come under new health care law. Unfortunately, the website provides little substance and more of the same rhetoric we have heard from the administration regarding health care reform. Americans should not be fooled: HHS will use the new website to frame the issue of health care reform in a way that is favorable to the new law, shedding no light on the crucial details Americans need to know concerning the federal overhaul of the nation’s health care system.
Now that Obamacare is law, Americans will need to know exactly what the consequences will be in order to prepare for the impact on their personal lives. But instead of offering detailed information and help locating pertinent pieces of the legislation, the new HHS website provides little more than fluff on the issue. This may have been tolerable during the health care debate, but now it is unacceptable.
Take, for example, the information provided to help small businesses. Businesses will be among the cohorts most significantly impacted by the new law, and will need to thoroughly understand its ramifications in order to prepare accordingly. But www.healthreform.gov provides one-sentence answers to crucial questions, such as whether or not employers will be required to offer insurance to their employees, while going into great detail in answering questions dealing with highly specific scenarios that are unlikely to apply to most American business owners.
Regarding the question of whether or not employers must offer insurance to employees, the website simply answers, “No. There is not a so-called “employer mandate” in the legislation.” This is a bold and breathtaking official response, since there is, in fact, a real and consequential mandate on employers, though the administration seems to redefine the meaning of “mandate” itself. Looking at the details of the new law, if employers with 50 or more employees fail to offer insurance, they will pay a $2,000 fine for every employee after the first 30. And even if they do offer insurance, if an employee qualifies for the generous federal premium subsidy and chooses to purchase insurance in the newly-created exchange, the employer will be on the hook for a $3,000 penalty for each employee that does this. For business owners researching how the implementation of the new law will affect them, this is vital information. A one sentence answer that disregards these relevant details just won’t cut it.
After passing Obamacare into law, the administration is now tasked with oversight and implementation. The lack of precise and adequate information only reinforces the underlying problems with this massive overhaul and should give Americans more reasons to want it repealed.