Obamacare Insults the Unemployed’s Intelligence

ORBIS flying eye hospital - recovery room

These tubes are somewhat more straightforward than Obamacare.  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you may remember that I’m unemployed and single.  Being unemployed, young(ish), and without health insurance, you might think I’m thrilled about the implementation of Obama’s health care scheme.

I am not.

The legislation was sold as something that would extend health coverage to people who don’t have it, as a warm and fuzzy legislative accomplishment that would ensure basic services for everyone.  And so I thought to myself that I’d visit the website to see what I’d have to pay.  I may not have an income, but I was always pretty frugal and parting with a few saved dollars to get insured might not be a bad idea.  Emphasis belongs on the word “few” because few is a euphemistic term for how many dollars I have.

Fortunately, the website links to a rate estimator (“subsidy calculator”) that asks for some basic information (age, income, number of dependents, etc.)  and spits out some numbers.  As it turns out, my income isn’t high enough to qualify for low-income assistance (Medicaid).   The webpage explaining options for the unemployed offers up this little gem on other reduced rate possibilities:

You may qualify for lower costs for monthly premiums and out-of-pocket costs on private insurance based on your household size and income. Some people with very low incomes may wind up paying very small premiums. You can apply for Marketplace insurance now. Coverage can begin as soon as January 1, 2014.

You can click on that link in the quote if you like; it provides no new information.  And I’m hardly surprised.  The quote admits that “some” low-income people “may” pay very small premiums.  Nothing concrete is promised, and that doesn’t match Obama’s lofty political rhetoric.

So let’s assume I’d have to pay full price.  For the least expensive option, I’d be spending over $2,500 per year.  As you might imagine, this is why I don’t presently have health insurance.

But fear not!  I have discovered the silver lining.  Although Obamacare assesses a penalty to people who don’t enroll in health insurance, the website explains what I can do if I can’t afford the premiums:

If you feel that any Marketplace coverage is unaffordable and you don’t qualify for other exemptions, you can apply for a hardship exemption. If you get an exemption, you don’t have to pay the fee paid by other people who do not have health insurance. Read more about exemptions.

So, for an unemployed person like me, Obamacare expands my health care options by allowing me to apply for exemption from a fee that wasn’t previously required.  Brilliant!

Incidentally, the non-enrollment penalty is “sometimes” called the “individual responsibility provision,”  which accurately describes things.   The mandate to enroll is what Tea Party (radical conservative faction, for my non-U.S. readers) have opposed most vociferously.  However, the requirement was originally a conservative invention in the early 1990’s that was devised as an alternative to Hillary Clinton’s proposals for reform.  Back then, conservatives were selling the mandate as a way to make sure people who could afford it were paying into the system.  After all, hospitals don’t turn away people without insurance or cash; insurance holders end up eating the costs for their uninsured neighbors through higher premiums.  The conservatives didn’t make any attempt to sell this provision as “universal healthcare” and I laud them for their honesty and their recognition that people who can afford it ought to be contributing.

As for me, I look at Obamacare and see a massively expensive government program that in no way accomplishes anything it was promised to do in a country that is too far in debt to afford much of anything.  Low-income assistance (Medicaid) already existed.

Shutting down the government and risking a debt default were rotten tactics, but now I understand the Tea Party’s continued opposition to Obamacare.  I only wish someone on the liberal side would stand up and proclaim some objections that are more damning than what the Tea Party puts forth.  In the meantime, I’ll have to grudgingly respect the Tea Party for having the sense to oppose this law… even if the ideological reasons they offer don’t resonate with me.

14 thoughts on “Obamacare Insults the Unemployed’s Intelligence

  1. Let me get this right: you have to earn ABOVE a certain income to qualify for LOW INCOME rates? Trust politicians to muck something like this up.

    It sounds like South Africa where our minister for health did not study medicine (previously, current one is actually a MD and quite good at both medicine and politics), minister for education is not a teacher, minister for the military has never served, minister for prisons…okay, there’s a reasonable possibility that he/she (I don’t even know) has done time in the past, so that’s okay.

    Can you imagine if the politicians responsible for healthcare were all actually qualified medical professionals, those for finances all had MBAs or commerce degrees, those for welfare were all social workers…things might actually work like they’re supposed to. I know it’ll never happen, but one can dream…

    • Funny you should say that…

      When Obamacare was being debated, one prominent liberal (a former elected official and previous chairman of the Democratic Party) did speak out against the legislation, calling it a handout to insurance companies. The guy has an MD. Go figure.

  2. I’m a Democrat who voted for Obama, and I wouldn’t give my rabid right-wing, Rush Limbaugh-loving husband the satisfaction of saying this to him, but this legislation is looking just plain stupid.

  3. You can thank your state government for that one. Like many federal programs, Medicaid is federally funded but administered by the states. Expansion of Medicaid was one of the most important parts of the plan but was made optional by the supreme court last year after Republican governors argued for their right to refuse the money.

    • I think the blame for that falls on both sides. The Supreme Court changed the plan, but it was the liberal bloc plus John Roberts who voted that way. I find it hard to believe that the Court’s conservative bloc was more sympathetic to the law based on their questions.

      That’s important because Obama was a constitutional law professor of sorts. How is it that he and his advisors had a “most important part” whose demise on constitutional grounds they should have been able to predict?

      • Actually, the decision that the “expand or lose” Medicaid provision was unduly coercive was a 7-2 majority (wow) with Ginsberg and Sotomayor dissenting. The liberal bloc you’re referring to was the decision on the proposed remedy that HHS be prohibited from withholding funding to those who refuse to expand. It’s a subtle but important distinction.

        Source: http://www.apha.org/NR/rdonlyres/38837993-E528-4A49-8713-03AD6FEBE14A/0/APHAFinalAnalysisFINAL8112.pdf

        Regardless, it wouldn’t have been changed if conservatives hadn’t challenged it in the first place.

        The idea that Obama being a constitutional law professor should have seen this coming is a fair point. Perhaps he and the others who crafted the law were being overly ambitious.

      • All that being said, I’m sure none of this makes you feel any better about the fact that you still can’t get health insurance. I’m sure that sucks for you and anyone else in your position. I sympathize with you there.

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