Let's scrap the Cadillac tax before Americans start paying in money and lives

Let's scrap the Cadillac tax before Americans start paying in money and lives
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Remember when then-President Obama said that passage of the Affordable Care Act would save middle-class families $2,500 a year on their health insurance premiums, Americans would get to keep their doctors, and a tax aimed at a few rich folks on their so-called “Cadillac plans” that offered “overly generous” health care benefits would generate money to help pay for ObamaCare?

Well, so much for that.

Instead of falling in price, health insurance premiums have skyrocketed around the country, only nominally more people are insured, almost no one got to keep their plans or doctors, and millions of middle-class Americans will soon be subject to the Cadillac tax. 

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Beginning in 2020, the Cadillac tax will slap a 40 percent levy on the cost of employer-sponsored health care plans valued at more than $10,800 for individuals and $29,100 for family. That threshold ignores the rising cost of insurance as a result of ObamaCare, is not adjusted for health care inflation, and includes the value of any employer-provided health and wellness programs. As a result, most workplace health plans will soon be subject to the Cadillac tax.

 

The tax will apply to far more minivan moms than wealthy Cadillac owners.

If Congress doesn’t repeal the Cadillac tax, the scheme will force employers to respond to the rising cost of health benefits with higher deductibles and copayments, and worse coverage.

I know all too well what this will look like. My family has a health insurance plan that will be subject to the Cadillac tax. A few years ago, I fell ill and was misdiagnosed, treated and sent home after a lengthy hospital stay. The next summer, I fell ill again, prompting a second round of very expensive testing, which included numerous CT scans, a lengthy treatment regimen by specialists and high cost medications.  Again, I improved and was sent home. A year later, the same thing happened. 

Finally, my treating physician sent me to a gastrointestinal doctor who found, after another round of expensive testing, the source of the problem and scheduled me for surgery. All told, a quarter of a million dollars was spent testing, treating and, eventually, curing me. 

If the Cadillac tax had been in effect before I was properly diagnosed and treated, I would’ve been forced to pay much of the cost out-of-pocket. I may have never been accurately diagnosed because of the expense of the testing.

My employer-sponsored health insurance plan made it possible for me to afford the treatments I needed. If the Cadillac tax was implemented a few years earlier, the very benefits I relied on may have been cut and I may not have been able to afford the care I needed to save my life.

Many other Americans have similar stories: they fell ill and their plans, which they paid for in conjunction with their employers as a part of their benefits package, covered their life-saving treatments.

If permitted to go into effect, the Cadillac tax will wage war on me and the 57 million women aged 19-64 who will be harmfully impacted because they receive employer-sponsored health coverage through their job or their spouse’s job. None of this should be the business of government. A tax should have zero ability to impact what tests and procedures doctors and patients opt to undergo — but, sadly, it will unless Congress acts.

Members of Congress should take advantage of the opportunity presented by the tax reform discussions to permanently repeal the Cadillac tax on health care. If it is allowed to take effect, the Cadillac tax will quickly become the most harmful public policy in modern American history. Congress should send the Cadillac tax to the junk yard before it begins costing Americans their lives.

Stacy Washington (@StacyOnTheRight) is a decorated Air Force Veteran, an Emmy-nominated TV personality, and the host of the nationally syndicated radio program “Stacy on the Right.”