There is no way that the current Democratic health care reform agenda can attract widespread public support if people know in advance what it will cost them and their families. But will they know? The president is certainly making some dandy promises. But he’s not telling us all we need to know.
James Capretta, a fellow at the Center for Ethics and Public Policy, has taken a look at all the Democratic plans, including the legislation proposed by Senator Max Baucus that is the plan in the Senate. The price tag for families is nothing short of staggering. Such burdens imposed without our foreknowledge would dramatically alter the way we live, the choices we can make in life. And don’t think it’s going to fall mostly on the rich!
Here is just one example:
[F]or low wage, full-time workers who are offered qualified coverage on the job, the hidden and implicit taxes of Obamacare are truly stunning. A worker with an annual income at 200 percent of the federal poverty line — again, $44,100 if the worker is married with two children — could be required to sign up with insurance costing $13,375 per year. The employee portion of the premium would be notionally capped at 13 percent of annual income, or $5,720. The employer would pay the other $7,655 — but the employer portion too would come out of the worker’s take-home pay (possibly after some period of adjustment). Employer-paid premiums are tax-subsidized, but this existing federal tax subsidy is worth much less for low wage workers than their higher salaried colleagues and it’s certainly worth much less than the subsidies being proposed for insurance secured through the exchanges. At 200 percent of the federal poverty line, the foregone tax liability on an average employer-sponsored plan is likely to be about $4000 (including payroll taxes). The other $9,000 plus in health insurance premiums — regardless of how it is split between worker and firm — would be shouldered by the worker himself. At $44,100, a $9,000 health insurance premium amounts to 20 percent of income.
The president and his allies in Congress are trying to convince Americans that they have found a painless way to achieve “universal coverage” which will involve no sacrifice from anyone. But the truth is that the Democratic plans all depend on coercion and hidden and regressive taxes. Low and moderate wage workers are the ones who will pay the bulk of the costs. Indeed, last week, the Lewin Group found that the House bill would increase costs for households with at least one uninsured member by $1,400 per year, on average. The same is almost certainly true of the Baucus plan. “Taxing the uninsured” is not likely to be a winning slogan for Obamacare. But it’s an accurate description.
You children and grandchildren will be born into debt. You will bear a crippling financial burden between now and your first end-of-life counseling session. Footloose and fancy free twenties–forget it. Saving for your retirement in your twenties? Nope. Our twenty-somethings will be paying big bills for the health care of others.