One of the challenges of living in the Upper Midwest is that you have to prepare for the Holidays now before it gets too cold. As we say in our household, “Easter is the time of year when can take down the outside Christmas lights you put up after Halloween because the extension cords were frozen solid to the ground since Thanksgiving.” Therefore, we in the Tundra pride ourselves on thinking ahead. We were wondering if we need to think ahead about Affordable Care Act impacts, or if it is too early.
Many health care consumers are having their coverage dropped from their insurance provider (see link below). Much ink has been spilled discussing how that may impact health care companies. We also wonder if this will impact the broader economy, and if so when and do we need to prepare now as investors?
Our gut feel is that it will have less of an impact on the truly affluent in this country as many can pay out of pocket or find alternative sources of care worldwide. We also wonder if little will change with the less affluent. Yes many more will have affordable insurance, but we also do not know what the final deductible and co-payments might be until we get more data on the demographic characteristics of those that signed up. That leaves our large middle class. If premiums, deductibles and co-pays rise for a good percentage of middle-class Americans (e.g. those without existing conditions), what will that mean for disposable income? Will increasing health care costs crowd out consumer spending and will it impact other sectors?
Part of us says that it is too early to make any investment decision, especially since those who work for larger corporations will not feel the impact until 2015 since larger companies received a one year extension under the Affordable Care Act. But still a sizable subsector of the middle class could feel the impact by January, and others who are not affected now may see the impact higher costs have on their neighbors and act accordingly beforehand. What do you think?