Experts chew over Obamacare

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The College of Business and Economics hosted an in-depth look at the specifics of the Obamacare health care reform act and its effects on business.

The panel was held at the Radisson hotel in Newport Beach on Friday as a way to clear up the myriad of misconceptions that have arisen from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.

Karen Nixon, founder and President of Nixon Benefits, moderated the event by asking the guest panelists questions specific to their field and how Obamacare would affect the status quo of California and the nation as a whole.

The panel guests were also prepared to clear up any misconceptions about Obamacare as well as specific questions relating to business owners such as minimum standards, deductibles and penalizations for fraud.

Photo by John Pekcan
Photo by John Pekcan

The first topic discussed was the need for preventative care and regular doctor visits rather than an individual relying on emergency care, in addition to the cost of giving this privilege to anyone.

While it might seem hazardous to wait until an illness becomes an emergency, Dwayne Logan, CEO and medical director for Atlantis Eyecare, noted that even though emergency room treatment is excellent, the goal is to give citizens the option of regular doctor visits to circumvent the need for an emergency room visit in the future.

“In our system currently, there are many patients that access our health care through emergency rooms,” said Logan. “These patients will now, with this new Affordable Care Act, have access to care.”

Logan said that while the patient load for a doctor might increase due to newly insured individuals as a product of Obamacare, health care professionals need to do their part in helping with the well being of the nation.

“We all have to have the attitude of caring and trying to do more for our fellow man,” said Logan.

The hot topic discussion for the panelists centered on the financial aspects of health care reform and the affects it could have on businesses, as well as what happens when a business does not provide health care according to Obamacare.

Panelist Marilyn Monahan, owner of Monahan Law Office, said that both small and large businesses can save money by offering plans with higher deductibles and changing dependant coverage costs. She also said that some employers are reducing employee work hours to part-time.

However, Monahan cautioned that an employer should be aware that Obamacare has limits as to how high a deductible can be and to speak with an employment lawyer before downgrading a workforce to part-time.

Monahan outlined that the government’s health insurance exchange can provide easy options for businesses that can range from modest to a higher level of complete coverage.

“If you have under 50 employees, you are eligible to purchase coverage on the exchange,” said Monahan. “The exchange offers different levels of plans; they call them the metal levels: bronze, silver, gold and platinum. So employers can make decisions as to how generous they want their plan to be.”

While opponents of Obamacare argue that the act is going to end up driving up the cost of health care, Regional Medical Director of HealthCare Partners Keith Wilson said that the cost has already been driven upwards due to population growth and the amount of people becoming eligible for Medicare. “I think the cost of health care would continue to rise whether in fact we had the affordable care act or not because the primary drivers of health care cost are the same drivers that forced (Obamacare) enactment,” said Wilson.

The event closed out with a short round of questions from an online Twitter feed, but not before CSUF alumni Steven Scott, vice president and general manager of Large Group for Anthem Blue Cross, answered a question dealing with America having a healthcare system similar to Europe. (Large Group is defined as a health plan for companies with 51 or more employees.)

Scott voiced his concern that health insurance providers must be willing to create a high level of customer satisfaction or they will eventually lose to government controlled health-care.

“If the private health insurance industry does a good job and continues to provide value at a better level than what can be provided by the federal government, then that won’t be our future,” said Scott. “If the private health insurance industry fails to provide value to consumers at a good level, then I think that our future is insecure.”

By Raymond Mendoza

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