4:22 PM, Sep 3, 2015 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
THE WEEKLY STANDARD has long observed that Obamacare, which President Obama pitched as a great deal for Americans of all stripes, is really only for the near-poor and near-elderly—at the expense of the middle class and the young. While only a small minority has benefitted from the 2,400-page overhaul, a large majority has been hit with higher costs and diminished freedom.
Obamacare is slated to cost more than $1.7 trillion over the next decade (for its insurance-coverage provisions alone) in large part because it funnels massive sums of money to the chosen few. Take a 64-year-old couple living in Miami and making $23,500 a year. As Jed Graham writes in an Investor’s Business Daily op-ed—which contrasts Obamacare with Scott Walker’s conservative alternative—that couple can get insurance through Obamacare that is worth about $24,000 while paying for only $936 of it themselves. The remaining $23,000 or so is financed at their fellow Americans’ expense. In other words, Obamacare essentially doubles the couple’s income (while funneling half of it to an insurance company).
As Graham details, the published price of such “silver” Obamacare insurance is about $15,000, with almost all of that covered by a taxpayer-funded premium subsidy. However, Obamacare also provides an additional taxpayer-funded subsidy that dramatically lowers the couple’s potential out-of-pocket costs, reducing their deductible from a potential $10,000 to $1,000. As Graham writes, this “effectively turns the silver plan to platinum, raising its implied price-tag to about $20,725.” If that weren’t enough, Obamacare also bans insurers from charging young people less than one-third what they charge older people (in defiance of actuarial science), which raises costs for the young and lowers them for the old. As Graham writes, “Removing age-rating restrictions would raise the cost of equivalent coverage for a 64-year-old couple by roughly 17%, to $24,175.” So the couple is getting $24,000 “platinum” insurance for $936.
Meanwhile a 40-year-old single woman, also living in Miami, who makes $35,000 a year, gets $0 under Obamacare. She’s too young and too middle class. If she were in her twenties or thirties and made $35,000, or more, she’d still get nothing. A man with the same income would also get nothing. If any of these people were to decide not to pay Obamacare’s inflated prices next year and simply forgo insurance, they’d get fined $875 for violating Obamacare’s unprecedented individual mandate. In short, Obamacare makes the near-poor richer and the middle class poorer.
But not all of those who are poorer become richer. If the couple making $23,500—and getting roughly $24,000 in insurance almost entirely at others’ expense—loses $8,000 in income, their Obamacare subsidy would actually drop rather than rise. In fact, it would drop off a cliff, to $0. Moreover, the couple wouldn’t even be eligible for Medicaid. Their ineligibility for Medicaid is attributable to Florida’s (wise) decision not to extend Medicaid under Obamacare, but their ineligibility for an insurance subsidy is due to Obamacare’s irrational design.
In vivid contrast to such byzantine redistribution, Scott Walker has proposed a simple, understandable conservative alternative that would lower costs and restore freedom. Under Walker’s plan—which is based on the alternative advanced by the 2017 Project (which I run)—the couple in question would get a $6,000 tax credit to buy health insurance of their choice, the 40-year-old woman would get a $2,100 tax credit to buy insurance of her choice, and those under 35 would each get a $1,200 tax credit to buy insurance of their choice. The structure of Walker’s tax credits, which would go directly to individuals and not to insurance companies, would encourage people to shop for value. Any portion of the tax credit they didn’t use would go into a health savings account (HSA) they would own.
"No press is allowed."2:35 PM, Jun 3, 2015 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Former president Bill Clinton will be the keynote speaker at a conference of health-insurance executives this week. America's Health Insurance Plans, the largest health-insurance provider trade group in the country, is holding its Institute 2015 conference in Nashville this week. Clinton, whose wife Hillary is running for president, will close out the conference Friday afternoon with his address to attendees.
2:30 PM, Feb 10, 2015 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
Obamacare requires employers to provide "affordable" health insurance to full-time employees, and for the purposes of the law, the word affordable is defined very specifically:
Political Corruption 1016:15 AM, Feb 2, 2015 • By JAY COST
I have just finished a new book on political corruption. The book takes a broad overview of corruption, across the whole history of the nation, explaining its typical patterns over time.The most pertinent revelation is how the government captures private interests, which in turn capture the government right back. Indeed, reciprocity is a real phenomenon in government. It leads inevitably to conflicts of interests, and thus corruption.
7:53 AM, Oct 17, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
One health insurer in Minnesota, once the top seller on the state' s Obamacare-mandated exchange, is expected to raise its premiums between 40 and 60 percent. Small-business health insurance rates are also expected to go up in Minnesota. KSTP-TV reports the story:
3:01 PM, Aug 11, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Republican Senate candidate Cory Gardner is going after Democratic senator Mark Udall for voting for Obamacare in a new TV ad. The 30-second spot shows the GOP congressman holding up a cancellation letter he received from his health insurance provider.
"When Mark Udall voted for Obamacare, he promised us if we liked our health care plan, we could keep it. Well, you know how that worked out," Gardner says in the ad. "I got a letter saying that my family's plan was canceled. 335,000 Coloradans had their plans canceled, too."
2:03 PM, Jul 30, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
A Democratic congresswoman told her colleagues at a House hearing Wednesday morning that the debate over a bill that would grandfather in otherwise canceled group plans under the Affordable Care Act reminded her of a comedy skit about "whiners."
"I don't know how many of you recall years ago on Saturday Night Live, there was a segment entitled, 'The Whiners.'" said Anna Eshoo of California. "You know, they sat on the sofa and all they did was whine. They were a broken record. And I can't help but think of that segment on Saturday Night Live."
5:03 PM, May 30, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
An Oklahoma woman signed up for a new health insurance plan--only to find that there's not a doctor that will accept that plan within 400 miles. KTEN-TV reports that Janet Grigg, a cancer survivor, moved to Durant, Oklahoma to care for her elderly mother. But after signing onto a Blue Cross Blue Shield plan via the Obamacare website, she discovered she would need to pay out of pocket for her annual cancer screenings.
6:55 PM, Apr 30, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Only two-thirds of the eight million enrollees into new health insurance plans as mandated by the Affordable Care Act have paid their first month's premium as of April 15, according to a report from the House Energy and Commerce committee. Here's an excerpt from the committee's statement:
3:01 PM, Mar 31, 2014 • By JAY COST
Today is the last day of open enrollment in the Obamacare exchanges. Last week the administration had announced six million enrollments, with about five days left to go. If they enroll new people into the system at the same rate as they had the previous 10 days, that would put the final, nominal number around 6.5 million. If there is a surge of enrollments, then that could place it higher still.
Does any of this really matter? Yes and no.
8:02 AM, Feb 19, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Americans for Prospertiy, a conservative tax-exempt organization, has a new 60-second television ad running in Michigan that criticizes Democratic congressman Gary Peters for his vote and continued support of Obamacare. The ad features Michigan citizen Julie Boonstra, who describes how she was diagnosed with leukemia but lost her health insurance coverage this year because of Obamacare's regulations.
10:52 AM, Feb 12, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
A new TV ad running in Louisiana from Americans for Prosperity focuses on how the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, has negatively affected citizens' lives. Democratic senator Mary Landrieu, who voted for Obamacare in 2010, is up for reelection in Louisiana this year.
The ad features three people receiving letters in their mailboxes, with voiceovers from each reading out their letters informing them of changes to their insurance policies due to Obamacare.