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May 14th, 2013 3:11 pm
Self-Insurance Another ObamaCare Unintended Consequence

Sally Pipes identifies an “escape hatch” for small businesses trying to avoid the costly employer mandates threatening employers with costly insurance premiums or fines:

A RAND analysis found that a fifth of firms with 50-200 workers had self-insured by 2010, the year Obamacare became law — up from 14 percent of such companies in 2006.

A survey by Munich Health North America found that 82 percent of health insurance executives report seeing growing interest in self-funded coverage among employers. A California-based benefits consulting firm that helps companies self-insure told Kaiser Health News that its business has doubled in the past six months. And Cigna says that it saw self-coverage for small businesses grow by a fifth last year.

Companies with younger, healthier workforces are leading the way. After all, with their population of low-risk employees, they have the most to gain. And that’s bad news for Obamacare’s exchanges.

The problem for ObamaCare is that the only way health insurance premiums will be (theoretically) affordable is if legions of young, healthy people join the exchanges’ insurance pools. That’s because they are needed to pay into the system so that older and sicker people can draw down the benefits.

But if small businesses opt to self-insure – especially if they are newer businesses more likely to employ younger and healthier workers – then that will drain the ObamaCare pools of the very people who will make them (barely) affordable.

With this in mind, don’t be surprised to see an IRS or HHS rule come down that prohibits self-insurance to prop up ObamaCare’s exchange pools.

As with the so-called “family glitch,” it’s a ploy the Obama administration will be ready to use if its slapdash law continues to produce embarrassing unintended consequences.

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