Whatever happened to free Obamacare?
By Rachel Alexander
The IRS issued regulations recently announcing that the cheapest insurance plan under Obamacare will cost a family of five $20,000 per year by 2016. That estimate is based on choosing the plan offering the least benefits, the bronze plan. Government employees with their heavily subsidized healthcare and those who haven't been able to afford health insurance the last few years are in for a rude awakening when they realize how much health insurance for the private sector has increased over the last few years, especially due to Obamacare. Low-income Americans making barely over minimum wage are bitterly discovering how much their premiums are increasing.
Many people voted for Obama because they thought Obamacare would give them free healthcare. Obama told voters in 2008 that they would not be required to pay for healthcare if they could not afford it, "If, in fact, we are not making healthcare affordable enough, which is what's happening right now, and you mandate on families to buy health insurance that they can't afford and if they don't buy it you fine them or in some other way take money for them." He promised that healthcare would not be purchased without tax increases on middle class families. He claimed that Obamacare would actually reduce premiums by 14% to 20%.
Instead, premiums are continuing to increase under Obama. Over the past few years healthcare premiums for insurance through employers increased a whopping 600% more than wages. The implementation of Obamacare began in 2010, after Obama signed it into law in March 2010. In 2011, average healthcare premiums jumped up 9% to $15,073 per person annually, with employers generally paying two-thirds of that and workers responsible for one-third. This translates to about $400 monthly the average person must now pay out of pocket.
This is evidence that private insurance alternatives to Obamacare coverage are not going to be any cheaper. Healthcare companies across the country have been applying for and getting approval to increase their rates lately, in order to keep up with the new Obamacare mandates. The reason healthcare premiums are rapidly increasing is simple. Obamacare requires health insurers to accept anyone who applies, regardless of their health problems, increasing the costs for all. This is terribly inefficient considering there are more cost-effective ways to insure those who incur high healthcare costs, such as risk pools. Most likely it was done purposely to increase the costs of private insurance so much that people choose government Obamacare instead.
Obamacare also includes numerous forced mandates that increase costs for healthcare insurance providers, such as requiring them to provide birth control. It would be cheaper to decouple birth control from insurance and deregulate it, so adults can purchase it without a prescription or health insurance. It is so inexpensive and safe nowadays ($9 per month from Wal-Mart) that it is absurd to continue requiring basic birth control to be approved by doctors and health insurance companies, adding up administrative costs needlessly. Furthermore, why is birth control covered under Obamacare yet something as basic and important as dental care is not? Obamacare is all about picking winners and losers, rewarding feminists and cronies in the healthcare industries. It is not about really fixing healthcare.
Employees of Wal-Mart, many who make barely above minimum wage, saw their premiums increase last fall by up to 36%. Only Americans who make less than $15,302 annually, or $31,155 for a family of four, will be eligible for Medicaid to pay for Obamacare. That means unless you are making $7.35 an hour or less, you are likely going to be paying something for Obamacare. Many states have higher minimum wages than $7.35, so someone making $9 an hour doesn't even have the option to take a slightly lower-paying job in order to get their health insurance completely paid for.
Premium subsides will supposedly be available for individuals making up to $46,021 and families making up to $93,700, but it is not clear how much or how it will work. Subsidies for out-of-pocket costs will be available for individuals making up to $28,763 and families of four making up to $58,564, but again, it is not clear how or if the subsidies will ever really materialize for most people. Most likely there will suddenly – surprisingly of course - be no money available anymore by the time low wage workers apply for the subsidies. The states with the most efficiently run healthcare industries will be hit the hardest. Those workers who currently pay the lowest premiums will see the steepest increases, between 65% and 100%. Almost half the states have valiantly announced they will not implement Obamacare insurance exchanges, but this just means a federally administered insurance exchange will be utilized in those states instead.
Beginning in 2014, families that do not purchase healthcare insurance will be taxed (the IRS calls it a "penalty") annually either $2,085 or 2.5% of their income. By 2016, the minimum annual penalty per person will be $695 per person. This is cruel, considering many people do not have healthcare because they cannot afford it. It also goes against principles of freedom, to force someone to buy something they do not want.
Obama promised free healthcare in order to get reelected. He knew free healthcare was impossible, but most people have short attention spans, do not remember history, and do not pay enough attention to politics to figure out that it was a lie. The next time someone complains about their insurance premiums going up, your response should be to ask them if they voted for Obama.
Rachel Alexander and her brother Andrew are co-Editors of Intellectual Conservative. Rachel practices law and social media political consulting in Phoenix, Arizona. She has been published in the American Spectator, Townhall.com, Fox News, NewsMax, Accuracy in Media, The Americano, ParcBench, and other publications.