I’ve written several articles exposing the flaws of socialized medicine and the plans currently being considered in congress. Yet despite all this effort I get a feeling that I’m not reaching everyone I want to reach. Maybe their minds are closed and it’s a pointless effort, but I still hold out hope that reason can reach at least some of those still deluded into supporting this madness. Perhaps if I focus on just one aspect of the proposed legislation demanded by President Obama I can keep things simple enough to reach a few people.
I’m specifically referring to young working people and students who make up about 40% of those who are currently uninsured. This is a group who have made a choice not to invest in health insurance because they are young and healthy, have considered the odds and made the entirely reasonable conclusion that their chances of needing major medical treatment are vanishingly small and the cost of any emergency care they need — for the occasional stitches, injury or minor illness — is far less than the cost of health insurance.
The major health threat for this group of 18 to 30 year-olds is injury in a car accident, a risk for which they do not need health insurance because they are already covered by the automobile insurance their auto loan lender or state government requires them to carry. For them, major illnesses are very rare and other accidental injuries can be treated cheaply and paid for in cash at a cost far lower than the price of a year of health insurance.
These people are one of the main targets of the health insurance mandates which President Obama has demanded as part of national health care reform. This proposed mandate would require all uninsured Americans who don’t qualify for Medicaid, including these young and usually low-earning Americans, to buy insurance, which even the most optimistic estimates of the “public option” suggest would cost close to $3000 a year or more with private insurers. If they did not buy insurance they would be punished by having to pay a substantial tax penalty, estimated to be somewhere between $400 and $3000 depending on their income.
Think about the budget of a typical 20-something facing this mandate. These are people with limited incomes and tight budgets. Just out of college with an income of about $33,000 a year, the $3000 a year for insurance is going to hit hard. Already you’re paying $9000 for rent and utilities plus $8000 for food and clothes and entertainment plus $8000 for car loan and car insurance and gas and maintenance plus $3000 for taxes and finally $5000 on your student loan debt. That’s a tight budget and it doesn’t leave any income to pay for mandatory health insurance, so the poor bastard will owe the government several thousand dollars he doesn’t have. Oh well, time to trade in the Kia Sephia for a 1995 Geo Metro and cut the car expenses by about $3000 a year — just enough for health insurance. On the upside, that reduces the chance of any expensive dating, weddings or children in the future.
Oh did I mention that this is close to a best case scenario for relatively low income workers?
Under the current proposals you don’t qualify for Medicaid if you earn more than 1.33 times the poverty level which will make the qualification cutoff somewhere around $15,000. Imagine how much more devastating the insurance mandate will be for someone at the lower end of that range, like a high school graduate earning an average hourly wage of about $9 for a total of $19,000 a year.
Where this guy is going to get $3000 for good insurance or even $2000 for a stripped down plan with a high deductible is a complete mystery, but the mandate says he has to buy it since he doesn’t qualify for Medicaid. Luckily, he doesn’t have student loans and is already driving a Geo Metro with total car costs of only $5000 a year, plus he is living with two roommates, so housing goes down to $6000. Additionally, his taxes are only $1500, and finally he and his roommates eat mostly Ramen Noodles, to bring his food/clothing/entertainment costs down to about $6000. So with his more economic lifestyle he is barely getting by on his $19,000. When he gets hit with his insurance bill there is no fat to trim. He can’t even raise enough to pay the penalty. So the government makes him borrow the money — probably on high interest credit cards — and he still ends up with no insurance.
What it comes down to is that for people earning between $16,000 and $35,000 the insurance mandate is really nothing but a whopping additional tax of as much as 20% and many of them still don’t get health insurance. It amounts to paying for expanding Medicaid on the backs of the working poor.
This is not the kind of hopeful change which was promised. What’s more, this is only one aspect of the plan which was specifically demanded by the president. There is another mandate which is even more devastating for small businesses in addition to higher taxes, which hit them extra hard as well. That low wage earner may not have to worry about insurance when the other provisions of ObamaCare shut down the business he works for. Then he won’t have any income at all, so he can go on Medicaid and live in a cardboard box in one of the shantytowns which will be springing up around the nation.