The Cons of Obamacare
As the beginning of 2014 rapidly approaches and the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as “Obamacare,” begins to take effect it is becoming more and more obvious that the system, as defined, is economically infeasible. Through a series of new taxes, as well as the individual mandate, the Obama administration has assured every American that the new system will be fully funded and the price of their insurance will drop significantly. However, just as his promise of that every American could keep their own health plan or doctor if they wanted is proving to be a falsehood, his promise that the new law will add millions of new people to the insurance rolls while simultaneously lowering prices for the individual American is also proving to be false. The primary means by which the president has guaranteed financial stability, the individual mandate, will not provide enough financial input to cover the costs of the millions of new patients. The fault lies with a single loophole which allows anyone who doesn’t obtain health insurance to simply pay a small tax which is a fraction of the price of an insurance plan. With such an escape clause most economists have come to the conclusion that there is no way for such a plan to be financial viable.
According to the Supreme Court the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate requires each and every single American to either purchase a health insurance plan or pay a tax by January 2014. This is not a penalty, as the president and many of his supporters claim, it is a tax and therefore required under penalty of law. However, the tax mandated by the Affordable Care Act is a small amount when compared to the price of an insurance plan. According to the president’s own Obamacare website the tax in 2014 is only $95, or 1% of an individual’s income. This rises to $325, or 2% of an individual’s income in the year 2015 and $695, or 2.5% of one’s income in 2016. Afterward the tax “will increase by the rate of inflation going forward, or 2.5% of your Income.” (“Obamacare Individual Mandate“) In terms of families, the maximum penalty per family can not exceed 300% of the minimum tax no matter how many members the family may have. And children, under this section of the law, will actually be assessed at only 50% of the minimum tax. With such provisions in the law many assert that there is no possible way that the system can operate without deficits.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, although the president guaranteed that the average health insurance premiums would be $2,500 lower, “the average price of a family policy has risen by $2,200…” (Turner) With this type of financial misunderstanding, the president cannot be believed when he states that the individual mandate will provide enough funds for the system to operate. And as the system requires large numbers of healthy young people to enroll in health insurance plans that they will not use, so that there is enough funds to cover the older and unhealthy people who will need it, it depends entirely on an influx of young people. But these are the exact people who do not use health insurance on a regular basis and regularly feel that they do not need it. And according to some, younger members of society “will be forced to pay significantly higher premiums under the law than they would under an actuarial bases insurance system.” (Williams) To avoid paying this increased cost, “healthy people could drop their coverage, saving on the hefty premiums each year, and then apply for health insurance whenever they got sick.” (Murphy)
If the system requires that the young healthy pay for the old and sick, but then offers them a means to avoid paying, then who will provide the necessary financing? $95 per person is simply too little to cover the costs of such a huge program. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office “has raised its cost estimate for the law to $1.76 trillion over ten years.” (Turner) Added to the subsidies and other quasi-ethical mechanisms required to operate the law, the huge deficits will have to be paid for with increased taxes. But where will these added taxes come from? Most likely from those who already have health insurance through their employer which could see their per employee health insurance costs increase from $5,000 to $10,000 per year. (Williams) Other means of covering the costs could range from higher taxes on private insurance plans to cutting benefits to those already enrolled. But it is clear that without increased funding, Obamacare as is currently is operating will not be able to succeed.
Providing health insurance to all Americans is a highly admirable ambition, but like many of the ideas of President Obama, it is great in theory but horrible in practice. Starting with a simple idea, that everyone contributes for health care, the president has created a monstrous system that was ill-conceived, poorly implemented, and will most likely end in disaster. In order to garner support for the law, the president and his supporters were forced to add provisions that undercut the financial basis for the law. They believed that a large amount of money that would be generated from the young and healthy paying for healthcare plans but not using them. This money could then be used to pay the healthcare costs of other Americans who needed it. But by providing the very basis of the financing with a way to avoid paying undercuts the financial viability of the entire system. In order to maintain the system, the government would be responsible to continually increase taxes for other Americans, something that is politically unreasonable. So with the likelihood that Obamacare will not be able to operate successfully, future congresses will be faced with either continually raising taxes to cover the costs or repealing the law and creating something different.
Murphy, Robert. “The Economics of Obamacare.” Ludwig Von Missus Institute 13 Nov.
2013. Web. 9 Dec. 2013. http://mises.org/daily/6587/
Obamacare Individual Mandate. Obamacare Facts. Web 9 Dec. 2013.
Turner, Grace-Marie. “Top Ten Worst Things About Obamacare.” National Review
Online 28 June 2012. Web 9 Dec. 2013. http://www.nationalreview.com/critical-condition/304361/top-ten-worst-things-obamacare-grace-marie-turner
Williams, Armstrong. “Why are we against Obamacare?” The Washington Times 27 Oct.
2013. Web 9 Dec. 2013.
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