No, Obamacare is NOT Forcing Thousands of UPS Spouses to Lose Coverage

Did you catch the meltdown in conservative land yesterday when UPS announced that beginning next year, they will drop 15,000 spouses of employees off their health care plan, citing partly Obamacare? Oh, the horror! Obamacare is forcing employees to cut coverage, and Barack Obama was obviously lying when he said that under the Affordable Care Act, those who liked their health insurance plan could keep it! Obamacare is a disaster!!

Except that UPS' own memo and its vague mention of the ACA belies the make-belief conservative hyperventilation. First, let's clear up the facts about who this applies to, and what, if anything, they are really losing. Kaiser helpfully provides the entire UPS memo for you to read (Heaven forbid), and here's what you find out from it:

Don't tell anyone, but the change applies only to non-union employees of UPS. Union employees are covered under their union contract. So, when will we see conservatives come out swinging about how the lack of unionization is hurting health care benefits?

UPS is dropping optional coverage for only those spouses who have coverage available through their own employers. Employee spouses who either do not work or work for employers who do not provide coverage are still eligible under the UPS plan. UPS points out that, as a result of Obamacare, the employers of the spouses must also provide coverage that meets minimum standards so they will still have good coverage.

Those are the facts from UPS' own Take the quote in the USA Today/Kaiser article being used the most by right wingers to discredit and blame Obamacare, for example:
Rising medical costs, “combined with the costs associated with the Affordable Care Act, have made it increasingly difficult to continue providing the same level of health care benefits to our employees at an affordable cost,” UPS said in a memo to employees.
See, Obamacare done it! But while Kaiser provided a link to the full memo, I doubt any of the wingbats bothered to actually read it. Here is the full context from the memo for the above quote (emphasis mine):
Why are you making such dramatic changes to the Plan?

The increase in expenses related to chronic conditions such as cancer, heart disease and musculoskeletal conditions and the rising cost of health care in general, combined with the costs associated with the Affordable Care Act, have made it increasingly difficult to continue providing the same level of health care benefits to our employees at an affordable cost.
So yes, while UPS is taking the opportunity to complain about the Affordable Care Act for effect, it outlines several factors adding to the cost of health care that have nothing to do with Obamacare.

Despite UPS' potshot at the Affordable Care Act, however, I would be remiss if I didn't point out that for a long time, UPS has done the right thing by providing coverage to its employees and their families. And because of that, it has been penalized by a system that allowed other businesses to ignore that responsibility. Obamacare ended that.

In many cases, employers who did the right thing by providing family coverage were disadvantaged by competitors who were only too happy to shirk their responsibility to their employees by dumping their health insurance costs onto the backs of responsible businesses - either by providing no insurance at all or by offering prohibitively expensive and/or junk coverage. The Affordable Care Act stops that anti-competitive abuse and brings all large employers on the same level playing field by requiring that coverage be quality and affordable. So where are the conservative voices praising Obamacare for saving money for businesses that have always done the right thing?

Wait, what? Obamacare is saving money for UPS? Yep. Because UPS no longer has to foot the bill for other employers who are now also required by law to provide coverage, it will save a considerable amount of cash. Here - literally and figuratively - the money quote:
The Fortune 100 firm expects the move, which applies to non-union U.S. workers only, to save about $60 million a year, said company spokesman Andy McGowan.
When the president said that you could keep your insurance if you liked it, he wasn't saying that employers could not make changes to their policies that they have been making since well before the Affordable Care Act was passed. In fact, if anyone needs to be reminded of the health insurance picture before the enactment of the ACA, the story can be told in, well, a picture:

In fact, the Affordable Care Act was enacted in large part to address this problem, but not by more deeply tying health insurance to employment - a model that proved a failure. Rather, the problem was addressed by ensuring that people would have affordable coverage, with subsidies if necessary, regardless of who their employer is, or whether they are employed. The Affordable Care Act's employer mandate ensures large employers like UPS either provide coverage or contribute to the cost.

Make no mistake, conservatives aren't worried about the spouses of UPS employees. They are shedding real tears for big businesses that will no longer be able to avoid providing affordable coverage for their employees. But what else did you expect from a party whose most celebrated leader thinks that private businesses serving the public ought to be able to refuse service to black people?

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