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ObamaCare and Unintended Consequences

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as ObamaCare, should be the feather in the cap of the Obama administration. Instead, two years after its passage, the Obama administration is begging professional sports leagues like the NFL and MLB to help promote a signature feature of the law: exchanges. The Health and Human Services Department is leading the outreach to the leagues in an effort to spread the word about how fans could sign up. The Washington Post explains why the demographic is so desirable for HHS: 

A partnership with well-known athletes and sports teams could provide a significant boost as officials ramp up efforts to encourage enrollment among a demographic crucial to the success of the health law — healthy young males.

Millions of people with health problems are expected to jump at the chance to sign up for coverage that will begin Jan. 1; insurers will no longer be allowed to reject them. To offset the cost of those potentially costly customers, officials say, millions of young and healthy people need to enroll in health plans.

Are young people really this gullible? Will they really sign up in droves to pay for the healthcare coverage of their fellow Americans with their own meager paychecks, already stretched thin by student loans and households disproportionately affected by the recession? The Wall Street Journal explains just how losing a proposition buying into healthcare exchanges would be for the average healthy young American:

Mr. Alito pointed out that young, healthy adults today spend an average of $854 a year on health care. ObamaCare would require them to buy insurance policies expected to cost roughly $5,800. The law, then, isn’t just asking them to pay for “the services that they are going to consume,” he continued. “The mandate is forcing these people to provide a huge subsidy to the insurance companies . . . to subsidize services that will be received by somebody else.”

Since he puts it that way, why would they sign up for ObamaCare, especially since the alleged penalties will be negligible and likely unenforced?

National Review’s Jonah Goldberg explained why, as a demographic, young people were among the most obligated to follow through with the promise of ObamaCare: 

In two consecutive elections, you’ve carried Barack Obama to victory. When he said, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” he basically meant you. You voted for Obama by a margin of 66 percent to 32 percent in 2008, and, despite a horrendous economy for people your age, by nearly that much again in 2012.  

Whenever curmudgeons like yours truly suggested that young people were getting caught up in a fad or that Obama was simply buying votes at the expense of taxpayers, you’d have a fit. You’d insist that millennials are not only informed, but eager to make sacrifices for the greater good.

Well, here’s your chance to prove it: Fork over whatever it costs to buy the best health insurance you can under Obamacare.

Given the average American’s cognitive dissonance when it comes to voting and politicians, it’s unlikely that any young Americans will make the connection between their voting behavior and their subsequent responsibility to their fellow Americans who, by growing margins, find themselves supporting a repeal of the law. Unfortunately for Obama, even with the positive publicity paid for by your tax dollars, it’s unlikely that the bill will become anything but less popular as more provisions slowly come into effect. Already Americans are increasingly worried that the quality of care that their families receive will be negatively impacted by the legislation. Soon, they can start adding another worry about the law and its impact on their family: shorter work hours as another provision of ObamaCare comes into effect. A local paper in Toledo, Ohio describes the impact for an ordinary Ohioan: 

We talked to the owner of the restaurant Shane Beukre.  He said any business with 50 or more employees will have to offer insurance to workers with 30 or more hours a week.  If he does not do that, he gets fined $2,000 per employee. 

Beukre told us he’s cutting some people down to under 30 hours to help with costs to his business and the workers. 

As it is explained in the new law, under ObamaCare, everyone must have insurance.  So, the next step for workers is to get a plan through expanded Medicaid or through state or federal exchanges that will give them options on plans.  If a plan is not offered through their employer, workers could get a subsidy to help with insurance costs. 

It might be cheaper for individual people to have hours cut and pay less for insurance, but [employee Jeff] Vernon said he’ll lose more than $400 a month with fewer hours and paying for health insurance.

“That leaves me $27.50 for two weeks to live off of,” said Vernon.

The story was the same in Indiana, with local congressmen explaining why they planned to support a bill that would raise the threshold for what constitutes a full-time employee from 30-hours to 40. Indiana Congressman Larry Bucshon told a local paper:

“It’s a big problem,” Bucshon said. “I think ultimately you’ll see members of Congress like myself try to address things like the 30- hour definition of a work week.”

He believes it will be a bipartisan effort. “People recognize this is an impending storm,” Bucshon said.

Unless it’s addressed, “We’ll become a nation of part-time employees,” the congressman said. There are many other issues associated with the Affordable Care Act that need to be addressed.

Even long after the bill was passed, we’re still finding out “what is in it” (in the words of Nancy Pelosi). Congress doesn’t have the time to write, debate and pass a bill for every unintended consequence that befalls Americans due to the original 2,700 page law. The mess that is ObamaCare cannot be undone by piecemeal legislation like what Congressman Bucshon has proposed. The only solution is total repeal and a return to the drawing board, before the most damaging effects of ObamaCare become real for struggling Americans.