Will They or Won’t They?

Will these guys be buying health insurance, yes or no?
Will these guys be buying health insurance, yes or no?

The talking heads on cable news were asking two big questions this morning: Will partisan gridlock in Washington, D.C., push the nation into default and, somewhat less urgently, how many people will sign up for Obamacare? I’ve got nothing to contribute to the first question — there is no predicting the actions of crazy people. As for the second question, the really pertinent question is who will sign up for the Obamacare exchanges?

For Obamacare to work, the system needs lots of healthy young people — the so-called “young immortals” — to subsidize the less healthy older people. Sign-ups will vary from state to state, depending upon the cost of the insurance plans offered. Nationally, insurance rates are 16% lower than predicted by the Congressional Budget Office, claims the Commonwealth Institute (CI) on its blog. Here in Virginia, citizens have a choice of some 27 to 68 plans to choose from.

CI provides an interactive map comparing costs for a single 30-year-old and a family of three in different localities around the Commonwealth. According to CI, in Henrico County, “A 30 year old who makes $28,725 per year can get comprehensive coverage for as little as $172 per month, taking into account the available tax credits.”

Sounds good… Until you realize that $172 per month equals $2,064 per year, or 7.2 percent of the guy’s pre-tax income (and even more of his after-tax income). Tough choice. If you were single, 30 years old and take home less than $2,000 a month, what would you rather spend that $172 on — health care insurance that you may never use… or beer money?

Nudging the young immortals toward the insurance option more is the infamous “individual mandate,” a penalty starting at $95 a year in the first year. That’s so ludicrously low it’s hard to imagine that it will have any effect. It will be interesting to see what choices America’s young people make.


Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


27 responses to “Will They or Won’t They?”

  1. Perhaps a better caption for your picture should be:

    ” Will these guys be paying FICA taxes for the Social Security benefits they WILL NEED in the future or will the rest of society have to pay taxes to provide them with benefits?”

    We keep pretending that young people won’t eventually need health care and thus should not be paying into a fund to provide it to them when they need it – verses everyone else paying extra taxes to provide it to them if they choose not to save for the future.

    The ideological folks characterize this as a “liberty and freedom” issue.

    but the rest of us ALREADY pay taxes for those who do not buy health insurance. we do that right now.

    we pay taxes to provide hospitals reimbursement for charity care. We also allow hospitals to cost-shift that that when that uninsured kid who broke an arm and got a concussion can effectively charge you and me $10 for an aspirin to pay for his bills.

    this is the most dumbest issue in the country. We ‘pretend’ that we are not paying for those who choose to not get insurance.

    we pay the highest per capital health care costs – on the planet – and we argue that it’s “okay” because we have “the best healthcare on the planet” (except for those pesky 30 million who don’t).

    we live in this “pretend” world and the right wing beats their breasts saluting that Loon Tune world.

    Somebody, unbeknownst to us has slipped the nation a collective stupid pill.

    1. This CNN story suggests we might not be paying as much as you indicate for “free emergency room care.” http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/07/opinion/carroll-emergency-rooms/index.html

      I checked Fairfax County’s adopted budget for FY 2014. Taxpayers are spending $8.7 M for community health (primary care for uninsured, low-income county residents); $7.8 M for maternal and child health (also uninsured, low-income) and $14.4 M for school health (everyday issues, but also children with chronic problems – apparently not based on income).

      1. Medicaid DSH program totaled $17.58 billion—$9.93 billion of this total was federal spending, while the $7.65 billion nonfederal share was provided by state and local governmental entities2.

        1. Budget documents show Fairfax County taxpayers are not paying hospitals for indigent care. Don’t know about the State.

          1. TMT – then how are they paid for?

  2. Oh and don’t get me wrong. ObamaCare is not the greatest thing since sliced bread.

    It is what it is. WHERE is the ALTERNATIVE to it from the opponents?

  3. Try this one. Allow anyone to opt out of health insurance without a penalty, but repeal the law that enables them to get free care at an ER. And any state exchange should offer a catastrophic-only option.

    1. Principled opponents would do JUST THAT. How many principled opponents are there?

      The bottom line is that the Conservatives are too spineless to stand in front of voters.for what they believe

  4. HillCityJim Avatar

    Originally there was discussion that those on Medicare (for those of us that actually worked and paid that tax) would end up paying for Obamacare.

    Well, I just got my notice that my Medicare Advantage plan was changing both the rate and the coverage. And we have no idea how much our Part B premiums will increase. Here ’tis.

    This year monthly premium $62, next year $92.
    Max out of pocket in network this year $3,400, next year $5,500
    Max out of pocket out of network this year, $5,100, next year $10,000
    PLUS, my prescription costs, for all generic drugs, $831.94 this year, paid for by the plan, will now cost ME!

    Bottom line, my insurance cost, besides whatever Medicare Part B will increase, will rise from $744 annually to $1,936.

    Yeah I know, don’t you care about the______________ (fill in the blank, poor, children, elderly, immigrants, or anybody else that gets stuff for nothing).

    1. HCJ – that’s because Medicare Advantage is SUBSIDIZED by tax dollars and they are taking that subsidy away.

      Do you deserve a subsidy over others?

      you already are subsidized on Medicare … you pay only 1/4 of what it actually costs – for the 80-20 – you cover the 20.

      then Medicare Advantage was covering the 20 with an ADDITIONAL subsidy.

      the point here is why do you deserve a subsidy and others not?

  5. kaylamorris Avatar

    the penalties for not having insurance start at $95/yearly, not monthly, right?

    1. I checked, and you’re right. $95 a year is so low as to be meaningless, virtually no disincentive at all. I wonder why they even both. I’ll add a note to my original post.

  6. Oh.. it goes up next year!


    Guess what would happen to auto insurance if we did the same thing with that – that we do with health insurance….especially for the young…

    think back WHY social security/FICA ..is MANDATED.. why?

  7. basically this is about what we do with folks who are not personally responsible.

    what do we do?

    RIght now – we GUARANTEE that they will be treated at an ER – no matter what.

    and then if they don’t or won’t pay:

    1. – taxpayers reimburse the hospital – called Disproportionate share funding… GOOGLE IT – Billions of tax-funded dollars a year.

    2 – we allow hospitals to cost-shift to folks who do have insurance – i.e. those $10 aspirins, etc

    3. – we taxpayer-fund MedicAid

    we ALREADY PAY – the skate-boarder who breaks his leg just shows up at the ER – and you and I get the bill.

    why is this so hard for people to realize?

    Everyone in the US gets health care – “universal health care”.

    the difference is that instead of having routine/periodic health care – we CHOOSE to provide it via ERs … for those who don’t get regular/periodic care.

    We are the ONLY advanced economy country – in the world – that does it this way.

    and we have the most effective right-wing propaganda machine in the world – and no shortage of people on the turnip truck sipping right-wing cool aid.

  8. reed fawell III Avatar
    reed fawell III

    Perhaps events under Obama Care will unfold as follows:

    Joiners who under-report their income (so as to grossly lower their health care premiums) will combine with 1/ joiners who are legally entitled to get their healthcare for free under Obama Care, and with 2/ joiners who have preexisting conditions, to flood the Obama care system. The vast numbers getting high benefit at low or no cost will threaten to overwhelm the system.

    Meanwhile, a very substantial percentage of the “young immortals” will combine other refuseniks who are not so young but are well off financially, to find ways to avoid or refuse to participate in Obama Care. Over time these refuseniks will refuse for a growing array of reasons, good and bad.

    All this will combine to drive rates sky high for those who pay.

    Meanwhile the gaming of the system – the corruption of who participates, and how, and on what terms – and conflict, will end up being monumental. It will be rampant among all levels and players within our society. This will give rise to a long term and epic national dysfunction.

    I suspect that all of the above is almost certain to happen. And that the great unknowns at this point will be several. Will the system collapse? How much of it will remain standing? How long will the damage continue? And at what cost to individuals, groups, institutions and the nation?

    1. how do you “under-report” income that is reported by your employer?

      if you “under-report” your income and get audited, it WILL cost you big time.

      we ALREADY PAY for those without insurance… how many times does it take to recognize that reality?

      are we advocating NOT paying for them ??

      but here’s the bigger point:

      The GOP could have taken action (when they did Medicare Part D) to result in ObamaCare never seeing the light of day:

      a Nation-wide insurance pool – portable to all and premiums benefiting from a 30 million subscriber pool.. and all done via private sector insurance companies and medical providers.

      Allow everyone – do not deny pre-existing conditions – the very same rules that the FEHB federal employee program and Medicare use (and BOTH are voluntary) . No one is turned down under either program.

      Had the GOP implemented that simple program – ObamaCare would have never seen the light of day.

      why that did not happen….

      why in 40 repeal votes – not once – did that alternative or similar get proposed?

      tell me why in the “de-funding” kerfuffle, they do not propose that alternative instead of delay?

      the opponents of ObamCare are living in a dream world.

      the GOP is opposed to the govt being involved in health insurance – PERIOD but not a one is honest enough to admit it to voters.

      they are NEVER going to do ANYTHING because they fundamentally oppose the very concept.

      If they had their choice and could get away with it with voters – they would not only repeal ObamaCare, but Medicare… and MedicAid…

      when are folks going to realize that the GOP has absolutely no intention to do ANYTHING… and that basically they are lying about their intentions?

      How HONEST are WE being about this ?

  9. I am FINE with politicians standing for what they believe and for voters making their choices and if I end up in the minority -so be it – that’s the way our country was designed.

    What I’m not ok with is the dishonest nature of the politicians and the debate and our own reactions to – what we must know – or suspect is just not the truth.

    When someone works on you car or fixes your furnace or cleans your suit – or bags your groceries – do you REALLY CARE if THEIR children can visit a doctor and receive treatment before their lives are threatened by the lack of?

    We have a world where we talk about the sanctity of “family” and what do we do with “family” that is not ours when it comes to health care? Well, we don’t seem to give a rat’s behind do we?

    We’re okay with getting care for our kid but the guy that repairs your car not getting care for his kid – that’s just tough cookies? Right?

    2/3 of us go to Church (I hear), – and folks – what the HELL do we do in church when afterwards we walk right out and support the right wing “let them die” approach to healthcare?

    we should be ashamed. what in the name of heaven is wrong with us?

    we don’t need to bankrupt the country- far from it – but to do nothing but support the current hateful advocacy of “I’ve got mine screw them” is not something any of us, no matter our politics, should be comfortable with, much less proud of.

    The next time you look at a child – think of him as yours and what you’d do to get him health care if you could.

    we need to be fiscally responsible – we cannot let healthcare bankrupt the country but our “let the others die” approach to it when every other OECD country can do SOMETHING besides that – … well.. sorry.. we suck big time on this issue and I’m ashamed of us as people, church-goers and parents – truly.

    we have no ideas other than to oppose ObamaCare? No other ideas?


  10. HillCityJim Avatar

    WOW! 16 comments…now 17. And larryg posted 10 of them.

    Dude, why don’t you start your own blog? You have great knowledge of ALL subjects!

    1. You are correct HCJ. I probably ought to dial it back a bit both volume and frequency…

      My apologies to you and to anyone else that finds my “contributions” .. ummm
      not…. but please do use your cursor.. it does work, I can assure you!

      Blame Jim and some others here.. I do find the dialogue stimulating and do have passion for some issues . In my defense…there are some I do not comment on at all …nary a comment!!!

      the big 3 for me: education, health care and transportation in close order.
      and you may have noticed.. I do have opinions! I totally support Jims civility rules of No Ad Hominems but arguments are fair game.

      I do like hearing others views including yours HCJ but might disagree with them sometimes… and expect you to return the favor. I do learn others perspectives
      and I’d be just fine if you dial yours up and I dial mine down and yes.. there are way, way too many “I”s in my posts.

  11. Richard Avatar

    I am tired of this battle. I am tired of all the hysteria and false claims (thank you Americans for Prosperity!) I think most people feel the same. Thank heavens we’ll have some real data soon. Next year if it’s a total disaster you can all tell me you told me so. If it mostly works I’ll expect you to admit it.

    1. billsblots Avatar

      AFP false claims? Maybe, I don’t know. Have you ever listened to the President since his very first of nearly infinite number of claims that “you can keep your doctor!”, and “your yearly premiums will go down $2500!”, neither of which is remotely true but formed the basis of his selling points.

      1. how about these jewels:

        WE know IRAQ has WMDs….

        Deficits don’t matter

        Read my Lips…

        Mission Accomplished

        we can play this game but how useful is it?

        It’s not exactly like the GOP started off supporting the POTUS at the start. It’s been a hate-fest from day one with large dollops of racism mixed in for effect.

        you cannot win by just attacking the other guy. where is the GOP alternative the one they propose in the CR to replace ObamaCare?

      2. the context is important here. The POTUS made that comment in the context of others saying the govt was going to “force” you into government health care with govt doctors replacing your doctor – one of the numerous propaganda lies meant to scare people and succeeded.

        it was a dumb comment on the POTUS part as he did not anticipate that companies, if their employees had “other options” could “encourage” them to leave…as they are. He was not attempting to mislead people but to rebut the propaganda claims.

  12. Agree. This has degraded into one humongous dishonest propaganda campaign … though unlike Richard – I do not expect the opponents to
    admit it – they, after all, consider Medicare a mistake also as well as every other OECD country on the planet.

  13. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    I find the photo selection — that of two doofy looking young people — pejorative and counter-productive.

    Once again, Bacon is attempting humor and is slandering all young people by painting them as irresponsible slackers. Who is he to say that anyone under 30 is lazy and untrustworthy? That insults my daughters, now in their 20s, who work hard. When I was in my 20s, I worked my butt off — often until midnight each night and got Wednesday and Thursday off.

    If the law says you have to sign up for health insurance or pay a penalty, you do or you don’t. It’s like trying to argue that young people don’t pay income taxes. What nonsense!

    1. Peter, don’t be so glumly serious! You sound like a party apparatchik — there is nothing amusing about your petty bourgeois attempts at humor. If the party wasn’t so forgiving, you would be lined up against the wall and shot!

      I have two daughters in their 20s, too. I don’t think they are slackers. I am implying that there are *some* slackers in the Millennial generation, as there are in any generation. Would you object to that statement, or do you deny the existence of slackers anywhere?

      The difference between Millennial slackers and, say, Baby Boomer slackers, is that the Millennials are young and healthy while the Boomers’ sins have caught up with them. Boomer slackers have more reason to sign up for Obamacare. The Millennial slackers? That’s not so clear yet.

Leave a Reply