Monday, July 20, 2009

Why I mistrust Obamacare, pt 1

This is what I wrote in response to dday's "Whitling Down to Nothing" at Digby's Hullabaloo earlier this month.

First, I quoted another commenter, "pataphysician":

"I'm worried that a Health Care "reform" bill will be passed and signed that will include mandates, and taxing of Employer health benefits, with no public option and only subsidies for those who rank among the poor. Obama ran against many of these ideas, only to say now that he is Ok with them. That he says that now, makes me worried that they will happen. This would be much, much worse than our current system, as we will all be paying taxes essentially to private insurance companies for some of the crappiest care possible."

[incidentally, the comment thread led me to believe that Digby's commenters, by and large, seem to "get it" more than the people who write the blog. The bloggers are undoubtedly decent and well-meaning, but their perspective seems compromised by their apparent need to carry water for supposedly mainstream congressional democrats.-JV]

I wrote:

As Digby said earlier, if any sort of healthcare reform bill passes, the democrats will own it. Mandates and extra taxes will stoke class resentment while essentially helping nobody-- apart from the private insurance companies and people eager to paint democrats as being the stuff of the worst republican stereotypes: intrusive government(mandates), and more taxes for negligible benefits that only accrue to the very poor.

I am poor, and I don't want the democrat's plan. It's not because I'm stupid, but because it will likely cause me harm and make me poorer still. Consider: if a plan with mandates forcing employers to provide health insurance for their workers or for individuals to buy their own insurance passes, poor people like me will just have to hand over a certain portion of our very meager incomes to insurance companies for worthless insurance plans just so we can "stay legal."

Oh, but what about your employer? If your subsistence job as a cashier used to offer no benefits, now it will have to...

I doubt it. Far more likely I will lose my job and be reoffered the same job, only reclassified as an "independent contractor," doing the same work after agreeing to the new job(shh! employment contract) description in which I "voluntarily" surrender my benefits. Maybe my employer will even provide a handy toll-free number to call where I can have a call center rep offer me advice on how to score government benefits, or choose between private plans.

well, if that happens, you would get assistance paying for your insurance from the government...

I doubt this too. The 1st TNR article you quote says that subsidies presently taper off at around 88 thou for a family of four. How much do you want to bet this will be adjusted downward in the negotiation towards a final bill, and that if I get a job that pays as little as ten bucks an hour I will suddenly find myself making too much for the subsidy? (And besides, why should I be humbled into accepting a subsidy because I'm suddenly obligated to by insurance? Screw paternalistic politicians of all stripes, on both the left and the right, who want me to beg.)

Well, at least you'll have insurance...

Will I? Digby and dday, I invite you to go to some online price-comparison service that offers health insurance quotes. If you do go to such a site(they often have ads on Yahoo and other mass portals), you'll see that many of the larger insurance companies offer multiple insurance products, that range from over 500 bucks a month to less than 100/month.

If I'm making 10 or even 11 an hour, even if single and without dependents like me, the bells-and-whistles policies are essentially out of reach, and all I might hope to afford is a sub-100/month policy.

They usually have a 5,000/yr dollar deductible. I saw one company that also offered a max deductible of 7500/yr. Generally these policies only pay once you've met the deductible, period. No payment for a routine dr's visit, or even to go to the emergency room, and no prescription drug benefit.(I've also seen slightly more "expensive" plans that do offer prescription drug coverage, usually paying 50% of the cash cost, usually with a 500 or 1,000/yr limit.

So, if it plays out as I've suggested, and if I'm making 10 bucks an hour(I wish!)and don't qualify for a subsidy, maybe I'll have to shell out 600,700,800 or more bucks a year for phoney-baloney coverage, even though I'm poor, just so the government doesn't fine me and pays me my tax refund.(Money I could be otherwise spending, on say, actual healthcare, like when I need to fill a prescription.)

No thanks.

If this kind of twisted "health care reform" passes, it'll be worse than if nothing passes for the working poor.

In fact it will also make subsequent fixing of the bad law substantially harder, because the private insurance companies will fight like hell to hold on to the subsidy they gained under Obama in 2009.

cross-posted at Dead Horse.

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