The ObamaCare Chickens Come Home for Young Voters
Regarding Ezekiel J. Emanuel’s “Health-Care Exchanges Will Need the Young Invincibles” (op-ed, May 7): Dr. Emanuel suggests that purchasing insurance is a part of “individual responsibility,” and without insurance one is effectively “free-riding on others.” Further, he suggests that President Obama carry this message to the 18-to-29-year-old demographic that helped him into office for a second term.
Unfortunately, President Obama doesn’t have much credibility when it comes to the social debate against free-riding, having run on a platform of low personal accountability. Isn’t this the president who asked for high earners to pay an increasingly progressive tax in an effort to enhance the federal income-tax free-ride? Given his campaign rhetoric, it seems wildly inconsistent for this president to now take on a message of individual responsibility and inclusiveness when it comes to the financial burden this country must bear for health care.
Dr. Emanuel informs us that “buying insurance is part of individual responsibility.” If not, only older and sicker citizens will be in the insurance exchanges, making coverage extremely expensive. What he neglects to mention is that the penalty for not buying insurance is the greater of $695 or 2.5% of income (say $1,250 for a $50,000 income) in 2016. Yet the Congressional Budget Office says that same year the average cost of the bronze plan (least expensive) in the exchanges will be $4,500 to $5,000 for an individual. These young “invincibles” are supposed to pay over $3,000 more for insurance coverage when, if they just pay the penalty, they are guaranteed coverage. Is he saying that these young invincibles are supposed to be stupid, too?
To expedite this process the Obama administration should drop the insurance charade, call a tax a tax and impose it on all of those young Americans whom they wish to motivate. Maybe they will catch on when they realize that once they’ve signed on they will face ever-increasing charges. Then they will be properly motivated. The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
With the promise that pre-existing conditions cannot be used to deny insurance or raise the premium, ObamaCare eliminates any rational argument for buying health insurance when you are still healthy. The elimination of gender and very limited use of age and health status to adjust the premium will fall particularly hard on young, healthy men and on those who live a healthy lifestyle. Maybe Dr. Emanuel missed the campaign: The president’s plea for re-election was a promise to tax the other guy—either the 1% or the “millionaires and billionaires,” not for young men just getting started with their own lives and careers to pay more now themselves.
James M. Nachbar, M.D.
As a 29-year-old invincible young man, I have to wonder: When do I get mine? Unemployment among my age group far exceeds national numbers. Student debt is reaching heights unfathomable a decade ago. We are continually asked to pay into Social Security and Medicare when by all estimations the programs will be unable to sustain themselves until our own retirement.
More and more young people are asked to contribute beyond their meager means. At what point in our lives do we begin working for ourselves rather than for others?
Those of us who have some understanding of the type of plans required to be offered via these exchanges know that the base annual deductible for such plans will be $2,500. The proponents of the Affordable Care Act expect folks who don’t find value in purchasing even basic health insurance now to purchase an ACA-designated policy with such a high annual deductible. This will likely not occur. Secondly, the author wants 18-to-29-year-olds to purchase their own plans, when the same law mandates that their parents’ plan cover them until they are 26 years old. Call me silly, but would this make sense to me if I were a 22 year old?
Arvind R. Cavale, M.D.
It is almost laughable (were it not so sad) that Dr. Emanuel ties the Affordable Care Act and its financial success and affordability to “individual responsibility” when in fact it is individual responsibility that the law attacks. The ability to act and choose (badly sometimes) isn’t available in the law. You do what is suggested or you are fined, excuse me, taxed.
Peter E. Politi
[And my favorite…]
If the success of ObamaCare rides on “Insurance Exchange Days” at Yankee Stadium, I say, “Good luck with that.”
Mark H. Johnson