Tag Archive: Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act


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Obamacare (c) Desert Rose Creations / Family Survival Protocol 2013

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First, the administration revealed that enrollments for Obamacare next year will barely hit 10 million, far below previous projections.

Then last week, the consulting firm of McKinsey & Company estimated that premiums for policies under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, were going up substantially in 2016. For instance, the median rate increase for the lowest priced, highly popular “Silver” plan will rise by 11 percent – compared to just a seven percent increase in 2015.

 

Related: Millions Face Premium and Deductible Sticker Shock under Obamacare

 

Now there are troubling reports  that consumers will be facing soaring out-of-pocket costs for deductibles next year – increases that in many cases will neutralize the benefits of their health care plans or discourage some from purchasing coverage.

“That these deductibles are so high is clearly one of the reasons people aren’t buying a plan—they simply don’t see themselves getting anything for the money,” Robert Laszewski, president of Health Policy & Strategy Associates, a business and policy consultant, said in a newsletter on Monday.

Department of Health and Human Services officials insist that there are still plenty of plans available with low premiums for those willing to aggressively shop on the federal and state operated insurance exchanges. Americans have until the end of the year to enroll for the third season of Obamacare. But even in cases where consumers find good deals on premiums, they are likely to be stung on the back end by requirements to pay sizeable out of pocket costs before their Obamacare coverage actually kicks in.

The average annual out-of-pocket costs per worker increased nearly 230 percent between 2006 and 2015, according to an annual survey of employer health benefits coverage by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

 

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Americans Give Health Insurers a Big Thumbs Down

Americans haven’t been this fed up with health insurance companies in a decade, and their frustration likely won’t fade soon.

Consumer satisfaction with health insurance providers fell to the lowest level since 2005, largely due to the slow processing of claims and the rising costs of premiums, deductibles and copays, according to a new survey from the American Customer Satisfaction Index that dates to 2001.

 

Related: How Workers Are Getting Slammed With Higher Health Care Costs

 

Americans are extremely cost sensitive, especially in the health sector, and take notice of how fast their costs go up, says ACSI managing director David VanAmburg.

Obamacare also plays an indirect role. Providers are unable to keep up with customer service as more people purchase insurance, he says. And many insurers haven’t beefed up their staffing to deal with the increase in demand. As insurers become responsible for more consumers, they may need to recalibrate, VanAmburg says.

 

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The New American

Wednesday, 23 April 2014 15:08

Democrat Says Worst of ObamaCare Yet to Come

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 Photo of Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.): AP Images

It is always noteworthy when a lawmaker breaks what seems to be the “Cardinal Rule” against speaking out against one’s own party, particularly when it regards the party’s signature accomplishment. The Obama administration cannot possibly be pleased with the assertions made by Representative Stephen Lynch (shown, D-Mass.) about the healthcare law, which stand in direct opposition to statements made by the president about the very same law.

On April 17, readers may recall, President Obama announced during a White House news conference that the healthcare law “is working.” Yet during an interview with the Boston Herald, Lynch did not hesitate to criticize the law when he said the worst of the Affordable Care Act has yet to be seen.

“There are parts of Obamacare, or the Affordable Care Act, that were postponed because they are unpalatable,” he told the Herald. “As these provisions come into effect, the administration thus far is saying, ‘Gee, we really can’t handle this right now so we’re going to delay it.’”

 

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MICHAEL REYNOLDS / EPA 8 minutes

Kathleen Sebelius Resigning as Health Secretary

Health and Human Service Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is resigning, U.S. officials told NBC News on Thursday.

U.S. officials told NBC News that President Barack Obama on Friday will nominate Sylvia Mathews Burwell, currently director of the White House Office and Management and Budget, to succeed Sebelius, 65, the former governor of Kansas, who was an original member of the Cabinet that Obama appointed when he took office in January 2009.

Image: U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Sebelius answers a question while she testifies before the Senate Finance Committee hearing on the President's budget proposal for FY2015, on Capitol Hill in Washington LARRY DOWNING / Reuters
As secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius was the public face of the bug-ridden rollout of President Barack Obama’s health care insurance initiative..

No reason for Sebelius’ departure, was immediately available, but she came under sustained criticism as head of the agency in charge of the controversial rollout of Obama’s health care reform initiative.

Sebelius told Obama of her intentions in early March, a White official said, but she didn’t tip her hand when she told the Senate Finance Committee earlier Thursday that 7.5 million Americans had signed up for health coverage under the new law — a figure that exceeded the original expectations despite the months of problems.

Sebelius has apologized numerous times for the glitch-prone website, which initially blocked many Americans from comparing and enrolling in health insurance plans. Testifying before a House committee in October, she conceded that the website, healthcare.gov, was “a miserably frustrating experience for way too many Americans.”

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Bloomberg

Sebelius Said to Resign as U.S. Health Secretary

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of Health and Human Services, speaks during a Senate..

Kathleen Sebelius, the U.S. health secretary who steered the troubled rollout of President Barack Obama’s signature health-care law, will resign just as the program topped its first-year enrollment goal, according to two people familiar with the decision.

The resignation of Sebelius, 65, is expected to be announced tomorrow, said the people who asked not to be identified because the decision is still private. Sylvia Mathews Burwell, 48, director of the Office of Management and Budget, will be nominated to succeed Sebelius, one of the people said. White House officials had no immediate comment on the report.

A former Democratic governor of Kansas, Sebelius was an early backer of Obama’s campaign for the president. She spent five years running the Health and Human Services Department, presiding over the largest change to government health programs since Medicare and Medicaid began almost 50 years ago.

Sebelius’s resignation closes the first major chapter of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. The 2010 law is projected to eventually offer health insurance to 25 million more people in the U.S., paid for with changes to Medicare, taxes on health-care providers and a requirement that all Americans have insurance.

Sebelius’s departure was unexpected by at least one person close to her, Kansas Insurance Commissioner Sandy Praeger, a Republican who has worked with her since 1991. Praeger said she was at a dinner where the health secretary spoke last week and that “she seemed like she was in it for the long haul.”

Enrollment Goals

Assessing Sebelius’s work, the number of people who signed up for coverage through Obamacare may trump the difficulties in getting there when the new online insurance marketplaces started with flawed technology last October. In total, 7.5 million Americans signed up for private health plans through the exchanges, half a million more than the government’s most optimistic estimates.

The secretary “played a key role that enabled the Affordable Care Act to become the law of the land, and she worked tirelessly to implement it successfully,” Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA, a Washington-based health advocacy group that supports the law, said in an e-mail. “We owe her an enormous debt of gratitude for her excellent work in improving health care for families across America.”

Sluggish Start…

 

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Healthcare cuts canceled after Dem complaints

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The Obama administration announced Monday that planned cuts to Medicare Advantage would not go through as anticipated amid election-year opposition from congressional Democrats.

The cuts would have reduced benefits that seniors receive from health plans in the program, which is intended as an alternative to Medicare.

Under cuts planned by the administration, insurers offering the plans were to see their federal payments reduced by 1.9 percent, which likely would have necessitated cuts for customers.

Instead, the administration said the federal payments to insurers will increase next year by .40 percent.

The healthcare law included $200 billion in cuts to Medicare Advantage over 10 years, in part to pay for ObamaCare.

The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) on Monday said changes in the healthcare market meant it did not need to make those cuts to Medicare Advantage this year.

It cited an increase in healthy beneficiaries under Medicare, which it said has lowered projected costs for that program.

CMS separately is delaying a risk assessment proposal that was set to take affect under ObamaCare.

 

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Obama administration proposes 1.9% cut in Medicare Advantage payments

February 21, 2014 8:08 pm by

Barack ObamaMedicare Advantage plans could see payment reductions of 1.9 percent next year under proposed rates announced Friday by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Insurers, who have led a fierce lobbying campaign against payment reductions, have said the combination of the health law’s lower payment rates, new fees on health plans and other factors, including automatic federalspending cuts known as “sequestration,” mean that Medicare Advantage plans will see their Medicare payment rates drop by 6 percent – or even more — in 2015.

CMS said Friday its preliminary estimate is “the combined effect of the Medicare Advantage growth percentage and the fee-for-service growth percentage.”

America’s Health Insurance Plans said they are reviewing the details of the announcement to determine the total impact of the federal payment rates. In a statement, AHIP President and CEO Karen Ignagni was critical of the proposed rates, saying, “The new proposed Medicare Advantage cuts would cause seniors in the program to lose benefits and choices on which they depend.”

 

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Obama flip-flops on Medicare drug coverage

(REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman)

The Obama administration, in an abrupt about-face, said on Monday it would drop proposed changes to Medicare drug coverage that met wide opposition on grounds they would harm health benefits for the elderly and disabled.

Late last week, more than 370 organizations representing insurers, drug makers, pharmacies, health providers and patients urged the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to withdraw changes it had proposed for Medicare Part D.

One of the federal government’s most successful and cost-effective healthcare programs, Part D provides drug benefits for the elderly and disabled through private insurers to 36 million enrollees.

Critics said the changes, if adopted in coming months, could not only undermine Part D benefits but impact drug benefits available through Medicare Advantage, a program that allows Medicare beneficiaries to obtain their major medical coverage through private insurers.

“Given the complexities of these issues and stakeholder input, we do not plan to finalize these proposals at this time. We will engage in further stakeholder input before advancing some or all of the changes in these areas in future years,” CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner advised in a letter sent on Monday to members of the Senate and House of Representatives.

The proposals were opposed by both Republicans and Democrats in Congress. The Republican Party had already begun to look for ways to leverage popular anger over the changes into campaign attacks on Democratic incumbents who could be vulnerable in November’s election showdown for control of Congress.

Elated critics of the proposed changes said the government had effectively agreed to start over in the face of broad, bipartisan opposition.

 

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New York Times SundayReview

The Obama administration’s proposed cuts to Medicare Advantage plans — the private insurance plans that cover almost 30 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries — are fair and reasonable. As it happens, they are also mandated by law. Yet Republicans, sensing a campaign issue, are telling older and disabled Americans that the administration is “raiding Medicare Advantage to pay for Obamacare.” The health insurance industry, for its part, is warning that enrollees will suffer higher premiums, lower benefits and fewer choices among doctors if the cuts go into force.

Some of this could in fact happen, although the industry has cried wolf before and continues to thrive. But the key point is this: Over the past decade, enrollees in Medicare Advantage have received lots of extra benefits, thanks to unjustified federal subsidies to the insurance companies. Now they will have to do with somewhat less, unless the insurers are willing to absorb the cuts while maintaining benefits. Enrollment in these private plans, offered by companies like UnitedHealth and Humana, has more than doubled since 2006, in part because of lower premiums and extra benefits, like gym memberships, that are not included in traditional fee-for-service Medicare.

What made these perks possible was, in effect, a subsidy from taxpayers and other Medicare beneficiaries. The federal government paid the private plans, on average, 14 percent more in 2009 than it would cost to treat the same people in traditional Medicare. The insurers used this extra money to reduce enrollees’ costs and add benefits.

The 2010 Affordable Care Act rightly required that these subsidies be reduced, although it stopped short of completely eliminating them. The reductions began to take effect in 2012, and have not, so far, visibly harmed beneficiaries or the plans. Since enactment of the law, Medicare Advantage premiums have fallen by 10 percent, the opposite of what some expected, and enrollment has increased by nearly 33 percent, according to the administration. But as the law intended, federal payments to the private plans dropped — from 7 percent more than services under traditional Medicare in 2012 to 4 percent more last year. The administration now proposes to further reduce the payments to Medicare Advantage plans in 2015. The loudest criticism has come from Republicans, but plenty of Democrats have chimed in.

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Harry Reid: People Are Not Educated On How To Use The Internet

 

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One Third of Uninsured Won’t Sign Up for Obamacare

The Fiscal Times

March 17, 2014

As the White House scrambles to get people signed up for health insurance before the March 31 deadline, many uninsured Americans say they are still planning to take their chances and remain without coverage.

A new study by Bankrate.com shows that about one third of uninsured Americans are going to remain without coverage and opt to pay the penalty.

The survey results suggest that the administration’s outreach to uninsured people may be falling short, with more than half of people without insurance unaware of the March 31 deadline—and even more unaware of subsidies that could make their policies more affordable.

Related: Obamacare May Be Failing the Uninsured

Bankrate surveyed 3,005 people and found that 41 percent of those who were uninsured said they plan to stay uninsured because they think that health insurance is too costly. Meanwhile, about 70 percent said they were unaware of subsidies available under the new law that could make their health plans more affordable.

The study’s findings are worrisome for the Obama administration since the key goal of the president’s health care law was to extend access to health coverage for the uninsured.

A separate study by the McKinsey consulting firm found just 27 percent of Obamacare enrollees were uninsured. That means that the majority of those signing up for Obamacare had previous insurance of some kind—whether they were kicked off their old policies, or they found a better deal on the exchanges. Though not confirmed by the White House, if accurate, that could mean the law is failing to meet its intended goal.

Related: Gallup: Employment, Obamacare Lower Uninsured Rate

Gary Cohen, an official for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said the administration has not been tracking how many of the Obamacare enrollees were previously uninsured.

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Breitbart

Eight Ways to Opt Out of Obamacare

With the deadline to sign up for Obamacare having come and gone, many Americans have decided to “opt out” of President Obama’s signature health care reform law, choosing instead to pay the $95 penalty for sidestepping the individual mandate.

“For many Americans opting out of Obamacare is the best decision they can make, but it’s important that they do it the right way—just refusing to buy health insurance and not having another way to pay for catastrophic medical expenses is a mistake,” Sean Parnell, author of the newly-released The Self-Pay Patient, told Breitbart News. “People who want to opt out should be looking at alternatives to conventional health insurance, such as joining a health care sharing ministry or purchasing a fixed benefits policy.”

Parnell also strongly advises Americans against opting out and simply paying the “list” price for medical visits and prescription drugs without shopping around, or by relying solely on the local hospital emergency room for routine medical care.

“This approach leaves people who opt out vulnerable to sky-high medical expenses at inflated ‘list’ or ‘chargemaster’ rates, and can result in an inability to obtain needed care because of cost,” Parnell writes on his blog, selfpaypatient.com.

Instead, Parnell recommends the following eight options for those who have opted out of ObamaCare:

1. Join a health care sharing ministry, which are voluntary, charitable membership organizations that share medical expenses among the membership.

Parnell states that Samaritan Ministries, Christian Healthcare Ministries, and Christian Care Ministry are open to practicing Christians, while Liberty HealthShare is open to those who are committed to religious liberty.

Healthcare sharing ministries “operate entirely outside of ObamaCare’s regulations, and typically offer benefits for about half the cost of similar health insurance,” says Parnell. “Members are also exempt from having to pay the tax for being uninsured.”

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By Tom Howell Jr.

The Washington Times

Republican lawmakers cried foul Friday night over an Obama administration proposal to cut payment rates to private insurers who administer Medicare Advantage, a popular alternative to the government-run health program for seniors.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a proposed cut of 3.55 percent to insurers like Humana Inc. and United HealthGroup Inc., although the reductions would not become final until spring.

Although not a surprise, the proposed cuts come after an intense lobbying effort by the insurance industry against slashing rates, citing the potential for higher costs to seniors, and GOP lawmakers this year are sure to use the cuts as further ammo against the Affordable Care Act and its Democratic supporters.

“The health law cut more than $300 billion from the popular Medicare Advantage program, potentially forcing hundreds of thousands of beneficiaries to find new health care plans, despite the president’s promise,” said Rep. Joe Pitts, Pennsylvania Republican and chairman of a House panel on health. “The cuts announced today will only exacerbate the effect this will have on the health care of millions of our nation’s seniors, leaving them with higher costs and fewer choices.”

About 15 million people, or slightly less than a third of all Medicare recipients, are enrolled Medicare Advantage plans, while the rest rely on the government’s fee-for-service model to reimburse doctors.

CMS officials insisted late Friday that the program is on the right course. It said Medicare Advantage premiums have fallen by 10 percent since the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010, while enrollment has increased to an all-time high 15 million enrollees.

“We believe that plans will continue their strong participation in the Medicare Advantage program in 2015 and beneficiaries will continue to have a wide array of high quality, high value, low cost options available to them while at the same time we are making certain that plans are providing value to Medicare and taxpayers,” said Jonathan Blum, CMS’s principal deputy administrator.

 

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 Washington Examiner

By Richard Pollock and Kelly Cohen | FEBRUARY 5, 2014 AT 7:11 PM

A New York nonprofit improperly diverted $25 million meant to help establish three Obamacare health insurance co-ops to a wholly owned for-profit subsidiary, a congressional oversight committee said Wednesday.

The Freelancers Union, which received $340 million in federal loans to set up co-ops in New York, New Jersey and Oregon, gave some of that cash to a for-profit entity called Independent Worker Services.

The accusation appeared in a congressional report made public Wednesday by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, chaired by outspoken Obamacare critic Darrell Issa, a California Republican.

“The shortcomings of Obamacare co-ops demonstrate” the Department of Health and Human Services‘ “mismanagement of the co-op loan awarding process as well as serious deficiencies in the Administration’s healthcare reform efforts as a whole,” the report said.

The report was the focal point of an acrimonious hearing on Capitol Hill Wednesday, in which two of the key Democrats on the committee walked out in protest, saying they did not get the report until an hour before testimony began. “I am here protesting this report that was dumped on us,” Rep. Matt Cartwright of Pennsylvania said before leaving.

The report referenced documents the committee obtained showing that the Freelancers Union “sought to further the group’s ‘power in markets’ and ‘power in politics’ through the CO-OP program. Freelancers Union, by transferring co-op funding through one of its subsidiaries, received approximately $25 million of taxpayer funds,” the report said.

Also: “Emails between Freelancers Union officials discuss the intention to ‘use returns from the CO-OPs to advocate for our members in states where they are served now and served in the future. Example: We will push to get colonoscopy legislation passed in New Jersey.’ ”

Since federal regulations barred co-op funds from going to for-profit enterprises, officials from Freelancers Union successfully lobbied HHS and the Obama White House for an exception.

The Freelancers Union officials met and communicated repeatedly with HHS officials, as well as at least 30 times with senior White House presidential aides in seeking the exception, according to the report.

Sara Horowitz, the founder and sponsor of the Freelancers Union and founder and sponsor of both Health Republic and IWS, told the oversight committee Wednesday that the $25 million that went to Independent Worker Services funded support services to get all three states’ co-ops launched.

“I really want to be able to explain it to you, but it’s complicated,” Horowitz told the committee Wednesday.

“IWS’ job — as was put in our application to begin with — was to be able to help to launch, setting up their IT systems, their back-end operations, helping them to select their vendors. And for that IWS was paid $25 million in the last two years.

“That’s how the three co-ops were able to launch on time and on budget,” she said.

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By Reuters

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Hundreds of people with HIV/AIDS in Louisiana trying to obtain coverage under President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform are in danger of being thrown out of the insurance plan they selected in a dispute over federal subsidies and the interpretation of federal rules about preventing Obamacare fraud.

Some healthcare advocates see discrimination in the move, but Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana says it is not trying to keep people with HIV/AIDS from enrolling in one of its policies under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

 

The state’s largest carrier is rejecting checks from a federal program designed to help these patients pay for AIDS drugs and insurance premiums, and has begun notifying customers that their enrollment in its Obamacare plans will be discontinued.

 

Blocked: Hundreds of HIV/AIDS patients are in danger of being thrown out of the insurance plan they selected in a dispute over federal subsidies and the interpretation of federal rules about preventing Obamacare fraud

Blocked: Hundreds of HIV/AIDS patients are in danger of being thrown out of the insurance plan they selected in a dispute over federal subsidies and the interpretation of federal rules about preventing Obamacare fraud

The carrier says it no longer will accept third-party payments, such as those under the 1990 Ryan White Act, which many people with HIV/AIDS use to pay their premiums.

‘In no event will coverage be provided to any subscribers, as of March 1, 2014, unless the premiums are paid by the subscriber (or a relative) unless otherwise required by law,’ Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana spokesman John Maginnis told Reuters.

 

The dispute goes back to a series of statements from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the lead Obamacare agency.

 

In September, CMS informed insurers that Ryan White funds ‘may be used to cover the cost of private health insurance premiums, deductibles, and co-payments’ for Obamacare plans.

 

In November, however, it warned ‘hospitals, other healthcare providers, and other commercial entities’ that it has ‘significant concerns’ about their supporting premium payments and helping Obamacare consumers pay deductibles and other costs, citing the risk of fraud.

 

The insurers told healthcare advocates that the November guidance requires them to reject payments from the Ryan White program in order to combat fraud, said Robert Greenwald, managing director of the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School, a position Louisiana Blue still maintains.

Sick: Hundreds of indigent HIV/AIDS patients are dependent on Ryan White payments for Obamacare because they are not eligible for Medicaid and Obamacare federal subsidies don't kick in until people are at 100 per cent of the federal poverty level

Sick: Hundreds of indigent HIV/AIDS patients are dependent on Ryan White payments for Obamacare because they are not eligible for Medicaid and Obamacare federal subsidies don’t kick in until people are at 100 per cent of the federal poverty level

 

‘As an anti-fraud measure, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Louisiana has implemented a policy, across our individual health insurance market, of not accepting premium payments from any third parties who are not related’ to the subscriber, Maginnis said.

 

On Friday, CMS spokeswoman Tasha Bradley told Reuters that, to the contrary, Ryan White grantees ‘may use funds to pay for premiums on behalf of eligible enrollees in Marketplace plans, when it is cost-effective for the Ryan White program,’ meaning that having people with HIV/AIDS enroll in insurance under Obamacare could save the government money.

 

‘The third-party payer guidance CMS released (in November) does not apply to’ Ryan White programs.

 

Maginnis did not respond to further requests, sent after business hours, for comment on CMS’s Friday statement.

 

Hundreds of indigent HIV/AIDS patients are dependent on Ryan White payments for Obamacare because they fall into a gap.

They are not eligible for Medicaid, the joint federal-state health insurance program for the poor, because Louisiana did not expand the low-income program, and Obamacare federal subsidies don’t kick in until people are at 100 percent of the federal poverty level.

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  @Luhby February 6, 2014: 6:03 PM ET

AOL CEO: Obamacare leads to 401(k) cut
NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

AOL became the latest company to blame Obamacare for cutting back on employee benefits.

The tech firm will now pay its 401(k) company match only to employees who are active on Dec. 31 of that year, as opposed to in their paychecks throughout the year. So those who leave the company before the end of the year will forfeit the match.

AOL (AOL) CEO Tim Armstrong blamed $7.1 million in additional Obamacare costs the company is facing this year. Had the company not made the change in its 401(k) payments, employees would have seen their health insurance costs increase, he told CNN Thursday.

Armstrong did not provide a lot of specifics about what aspects of Obamacare were pushing up the company’s health care costs, but said it was one factor affecting the 401(k) restructuring.

“The Obamacare Act and some of the changes that happened there had increases in our health care costs,” Armstrong told CNN. “We had to make a choice whether we pass those on or whether we took other benefits and reduce them.”

Some employees will still see their premiums rise, depending on the plan they picked, though AOL “ate a huge piece of the increase.”

The news came on a day when AOL announced 2013 was “its most successful year in the last decade,” reporting revenues of $2.3 billion.

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AOL chief cuts 401(k) benefits, blames Obamacare and two “distressed babies”

  • February 7 at 11:07 am

AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong blames the new health care law for why his company has made a major change to its 401(k) benefits. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Bloomberg)
AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong blames the new health care law for why his company has made a major change to its 401(k) benefits. (Photo by Pete Marovich/Bloomberg)

AOL chief executive Tim Armstrong Thursday offered a number of unusual explanations for why his company pulled back its 401(k) benefits for employees this year. The first reason: Obamacare. The second: two women at the company who had “distressed babies” in 2012.

The stock, which reached $51 on Thursday morning because of a good earnings release by AOL, fell to 47.15 by the end of regular trading. It’s down another 2.5 percent Friday.

How did this mess begin? The Washington Post reported Tuesday that AOL quietly made a major change to its 401(k) plan by switching its match to a lump sum at the end of the year, rather than contributing with every paycheck. The benefit is only available to employees who are still active on Dec. 31.

Retirement experts widely agree that the change hurts all employees–not just those who leave mid-year–since savers miss out on the benefits of investing more money throughout the year, a strategy known as “dollar cost averaging.”

When he was asked on CNBC this morning why AOL was making the change, Armstrong said it was to spare employees from what he described as the added costs of Obamacare.

Here’s the video:

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