By Victor Skinner
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. – School officials in St. Augustine, Florida are quickly realizing President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act isn’t very affordable.
The district, and likely many others around the nation, is struggling to come up with nearly a quarter-million dollars in hidden fees associated with the nationalized insurance system, and are being forced to decide whether to pass the cost on to taxpayers or employees, StAugustine.com reports.
“ … (I)t wasn’t until November of last year that the government informed employers there would be a $63 per person fee for reinsurance beginning in 2014,” the news site reports. “For the district, it works out to $428,000-plus for the first year. Reinsurance is to help stabilize premiums for coverage in the individual market.”
That fee is supposed to decrease over the next couple of years.
The massive “reinsurance fee” is only one of several additional costs to schools under the president’s health program. Others include a $2-per-person fee to help fund a Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, and additional manpower needed to process mounds of paperwork associated with the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as ObamaCare, StAugustine.com reports.
“It’s still to be determined who will ultimately pay,” Tim Forson, St. Augustine schools’ deputy superintendent for operations, told the news site.
Forson said the district’s staff meets at least once per week to discuss insurance changes and issues associated with ObamaCare. One such issue is whether substitute teachers and bus drivers qualify for insurance coverage.
Under ObamaCare, any employee who works at least 29 hours per week must be offered coverage or the employer pays a fine.
“We are currently in the process of analyzing the data to determine how many individuals in the substitute category will need to be offered coverage and further what the financial impact will be on the district,” Forson said.
The St. Augustine school district is self-insured and works with insurance consultants to keep costs low. The plan qualifies as “affordable” under ObamaCare. That means employees won’t have to pay a fine as part of the federal program, as many uninsured or underinsured Americans will be required to do if they don’t have adequate insurance coverage starting next year, the news site reports.
It seems as though St. Augustine school officials were doing a good job of providing quality health insurance to employees at a reasonable cost, and ObamaCare will only make insuring those employees more expensive and complicated.
The complexity of ObamaCare, as well as its hidden fees, will clearly cost schools a substantial amount of money, at least for the next several years. That extra money going to the federal government is money many schools desperately need, so we suspect school employees will ultimately bear some or all of the additional expenses.
The whole debacle begs the question: How does increasing the cost of health insurance for schools and their employees translate into “affordable care?”
The answer is pretty simple: It doesn’t.