I was talking with friends and new acquaintances at the local Oktoberfest celebration last week when the topic of Obamacare came up. One couple, a young husband and wife, offered that they earn a comfortable, but not affluent, living. They’re presently uninsured and, newly married, were already planning to shop for health insurance as the new year approaches. The wife, owner of a growing food cart business, is self employed but earns the majority of the couple’s income. The husband earns a salary as an office assistant in a small law group.
I’m paraphrasing here, but when we started talking Obamacare, the husband told us:
You know, my wife and I have been talking about it, and I’m seriously considering going to my bosses and asking them either to give me a dramatic pay raise so we can afford some kind of good insurance of our own choosing, or to give me a dramatic pay cut, so that our combined income qualifies us for subsidies on a half-decent Obamacare insurance plan. With the money we make right now, we can’t afford the Obamacare ‘gold’ or ‘platinum’ premiums unless we qualify for subsidies, and we have no idea if the private plans we’re looking at now will be affordable once the insurance company revises its pricing structure to make up for whatever it could lose if not enough healthy people sign up for its Obamacare coverage.
Like I said, that’s a paraphrase, but that’s the essence of this young couple’s dilemma.
Apparently, their concern is one that’s increasingly shared by many others in the Nation’s middle and lower-middle classes.
A weekend article in the San Francisco Chronicle documented the new phenomenon of people asking for less money just to have President Barack Obama’s affordable insurance.
“People whose 2014 income will be a little too high to get subsidized health insurance from Covered California [the State-managed Obamacare exchange] next year should start thinking now about ways to lower it to increase their odds of getting the valuable tax subsidy,” the story advises.
It goes on:
Take, for example, Jacqueline Proctor of San Francisco. She and her husband are in their early 60s. They have been paying $7,200 a year for a bare-bones Kaiser Permanentehealth plan with a $5,000 per person annual deductible. “Kaiser told us the plan does not comply with Obamacare and the substitute will cost more than twice as much,” about $15,000 per year, she says.
This new plan, Kaiser’s cheapest offering for 2014, would consume about 25 percent of their after-tax income. The new plan still has a $5,000 deductible but provides coverage for things her current policy does not, such as maternity care, healthy child visits and coverage for dependents up to age 26. Proctor has no use for such coverage, since her son is 30.
Premiums are also going up for many people next year because insurers can no longer deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions or impose lifetime coverage caps.
All of this has to come out in the wash, and there’s no way for Obamacare to be affordable to someone without making health care payments completely untenable for somebody else.
Nothing illustrates just how regressive a scheme Obamacare is than watching willing participants in the workforce adjust their expectations of the American dream to accommodate a new personal goal in the era of socialized medicine: the goal of earning less money than they have in the past.
“If they can adjust (their income), they should,” Karen Pollitz, senior fellow with the Kaiser Family Foundation, told the Chronicle. “It’s not cheating, it’s allowed.”
No one wants to make less money to do a job that hasn’t changed. Who isn’t betting that middle-class tax fraud increases exponentially in 2014?