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The ACA's Effect on the Trucking Industry

Since its inception, a number of people ranging from small business owners to the self-employed have expressed dissatisfaction with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Even so, no group has probably been harmed more than those in the trucking industry. Chris Spear, CEO of American Trucking Associations, recently spoke out on how the law is especially detrimental to professional drivers-here’s what he had to say.

Impacted in Multiple Ways

According to Spear, the ACA has negatively impacted truckers through rising insurance costs brought on by the mandates. At the same time, he claims there has been a reduction in patient access and quality of care. He also cited rising administrative costs and the sheer magnitude of the law, which often leaves many owner-operators feeling frustrated.

Real Life Example

Trucker Matthew Garnett agrees. In a recent op-ed, he recounted how his premiums have soared to $2,000 per month, not including the $500 his employer covers. This amounts to $30,000 in premiums annually. According to Garnett, he earns too much to qualify for subsidies through the individual marketplace.

Not only have premiums increased, but Garnett remarks that his deductible has risen to $5,000. He claims this leaves him paying most of his medical expenses out of pocket. One such expense is his asthma inhalers. Garnett claims he was charged a $16 co-pay for them before the ACA, but must now fork over $55 for them.

Opting for Penalty

As a result of rising premiums and reduced coverage, Garnett has now elected to pay the IRS penalty. According to the Daily Signal, he is not alone. That publication reports that in 2016, 6.5 million taxpayers were also assessed a penalty, the average of which was $470. This resulted in more than $3 billion collected by the IRS.

Affects Jobs

Spear also relayed that the impact goes far beyond health insurance, as it also affects jobs. He notes there are more than 7.3 million truckers in the United States, accounting for one in every 16 American jobs. Nearly 70% of all freight and 56% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is moved via truck. As such, anything that has a significant impact on truck drivers will naturally affect the entire economy.

What’s Next?

Since recent efforts to repeal the ACA have been unsuccessful, many truckers are left wondering what is next? There are some proposals out there that would lower costs by implementing free market principles to spur competition and bring price down. One such plan would allow “buying groups” to negotiate on behalf of a particular group such as owner-operators. Only time will tell whether or not Congress is open to such a plan.

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