- The Washington Times - Monday, June 17, 2013


The “hope and change” of the 2008 presidential campaign is living on borrowed time. President Obama’s greatest legislative accomplishment, Obamacare, is about to become the nation’s nightmare, and for none more so than his most faithful backers. So much for gratitude.

Obamacare was supposed to be good news for the working poor, but as elements of the system come online, reality intrudes, as reality always will. The new law essentially eliminates the relatively inexpensive, stripped-down, high-deductible catastrophic-coverage plan, which makes sense for the young, healthy man who doesn’t need to go to the doctor very often because he isn’t likely to be sick. Under the current system, these young people pay out of pocket for less-expensive routine visits, and use the high-deductible plan to insure against the unlikely, but very expensive, possibility of a major illness or accident. That’s how insurance is supposed to work.

Obamacare destroys the logic and simplicity of this arrangement by mandating coverage of an array of required services, such as abortion funding, which forces up costs for everyone. The new law forbids insurance companies from fully differentiating among buyers based on their health. When one size must fit all, the fit is not likely to be comfortable for anyone. The young and healthy subsidize the older folks, who have greater health risks. The young and healthy may be cheerful about paying more than they should, but this burden will fall heaviest on the poor.

By the averages, young men just starting out in life will work and earn slightly above 183 percent of the federal poverty level. They aren’t eligible for expanded Medicaid or subsidies in the insurance exchanges. In California, a 26-year-old man could make as little as $21,000 and not qualify for any subsidies, yet pay a 90 percent increase in health insurance premiums. His dilemma is deciding between purchasing an unaffordable insurance policy or paying the individual-mandate penalty while remaining uninsured. Obamacare will do him no favors.

This scheme will mistreat millions. The individual market for insurance, according to Congressional Budget Office estimates, will include 77 million men and women by 2017. Of this number, 24 million are expected to enroll in Obamacare exchanges. Kurt Giesa and Chris Carlson published a study in the January journal of the American Academy of Actuaries that estimates Obamacare will raise insurance costs for 20-year-olds by 80 percent. The very sick will benefit from the government-imposed shifting of costs, but the “winners” under Obamacare will be few. A mere 150,000 people have enrolled in the high-risk-pool program, according to analyst Peter Ferrara.

The youth vote played a role in delivering the White House to Mr. Obama, with 62 percent of young men pulling the lever for “hope and change,” by the reckoning of the Pew Research Center. Had only the votes of men over the age of 30 been counted, John McCain would have won.

Leaving 31 million uninsured and extracting higher premiums, or imposing penalties on millions of young poor men, seems an extraordinarily inefficient way of making health care “more affordable.” On the other hand, Obamacare could be the slap the country needs.

The Washington Times

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