Monday, January 13, 2014
For all the attention Obamacare has drawn in recent weeks, few observers have noted that the law is having the unexpected, yet most welcome, effect of transforming scores of millions of Americans, virtually overnight, into generous benefactors of the less fortunate. A real-world example—representative of countless millions of similar situations—will make this crystal clear:Let’s say that you are a healthy, hardworking 54-year-old single adult in San Francisco earning $45,960 per year—the income level at which federal Obamacare subsidies from your fellow taxpayers are no longer available to help you pay your monthly health-insurance premiums. As a San Francisco resident, you are permitted to choose from among 16 separate Obamacare-compliant insurance plans. Four of these are so-called “Bronze” plans, low-level policies whose average premium will cost you $453 per month, or $5,436 per year. In exchange for those premium payments, a Bronze plan will cover 60% of your medical expenses—that is, after you meet the $5,000 out-of-pocket annual deductible. For this priceless peace of mind, you can thank Obamacare—the Democratic Party’s gift to a grateful America.Let us contrast your case with that of Joe, another 54-year-old single individual in San Francisco, who happens to be an obese alcoholic and longtime drug abuser with little ambition and no history of ever having held a full-time job for very long. Joe currently earns $15,860 per year, which is just above the income level that would have made him eligible for Medicaid. Because Joe doesn’t qualify for Medicaid, Obamacare stipulates that he must now purchase his own health insurance—thereby proving that, contrary to the shrill rhetoric of conservative naysayers, no one gets an undeserved free ride under Obamacare.Like you, Joe can choose from among 16 separate plans that are available to San Francisco residents. But unlike you, he is eligible to receive federal government subsidies—money that other, wealthier Americans, such as you, magnanimously “contribute” toward the healthcare expenses of financially “disadvantaged” individuals. If he selects one of the four Bronze plans (whose average monthly premium is $453), Joe qualifies for $452 in average monthly subsidies—meaning that, regardless of which Bronze plan he chooses, he will pay a monthly premium of exactly $1. You read that correctly. The very same healthcare plan that would cost you $453 per month, is available to Joe for $1 per month—i.e., the cost of three oatmeal-raisin cookies at your local Subway sandwich shop. Over the course of a year, you will pay a total of $5,436 in policy premiums, while Joe, who sadly failed to qualify for free healthcare through Medicaid, will pay his own fair share of $12. This is all in the interest of social justice, you understand. And please, don’t even think about whispering that Obamacare might be some sort of “wealth redistribution” scheme, lest you expose yourself as a petulant reactionary who doesn’t give a damn about sick people.
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