BuzzFeed notices that ObamaCare sticks it to the young and healthy

posted at 2:01 pm on February 12, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

Almost three years after the passage of ObamaCare, BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith reports that ObamaCare is actually a wealth-redistribution system in the most regressive manner possible.  Young workers, who find it increasingly more difficult to find jobs, will end up subsidizing the health care of older workers, who are hanging onto jobs longer and longer.  The politics of this wealth transfer is nothing short of perverse, politically speaking:

But the next 12 months are likely to reveal the opposite. Imminent elements of Obama’s grandest policy move, the health-care overhaul known as ObamaCare, are calculated to screw his most passionate supporters and to transfer wealth to his worst enemies.

The passionate supporters are the youth, who voted for him by a margin of 60% to 36%, according to exit poll samples of people 29 and under. His enemies are the elderly: Mitt Romney won 56% of the votes from people 65 and over. And while one of ObamaCare’s earliest provisions was a boon to the young, allowing them to stay on their parents’ insurance through the age of 26, what follows may come as an unpleasant surprise to many of the president’s supporters. The provisions required to make any kind of health insurance plan work — not just ObamaCare, but really any plan of its sort — require healthy young people to pay more in health insurance than they consume in services, while the elderly (saved by Sarah “Death Panels” Palin from any serious attempt to ration expensive and often futile end-of-life care) consume far more than they pay in. There is always a push and pull, however, and this year will be spent laying plans to shift the burden further toward the young. …

But politics is about power and resources, not about policy and morality. AARP has no real case to make there. The current young supported Obama; and the current old opposed him.

The near-total silence on this issue is a mark of a class that is either utterly selfless (hard to believe, honestly) or, as usual, singularly bad at seeing and defending its interests.

Hey, you know who predicted this in 2010?  Me, and just about everyone else who could do math.  In fact, just days after the bill’s passage, the Associated Press reported on the expected premium hike for younger policyholders:

Under the health care overhaul, young adults who buy their own insurance will carry a heavier burden of the medical costs of older Americans — a shift expected to raise insurance premiums for young people when the plan takes full effect.

Beginning in 2014, most Americans will be required to buy insurance or pay a tax penalty. That’s when premiums for young adults seeking coverage on the individual market would likely climb by 17 percent on average, or roughly $42 a month, according to an analysis of the plan conducted for The Associated Press. The analysis did not factor in tax credits to help offset the increase.

The higher costs will pinch many people in their 20s and early 30s who are struggling to start or advance their careers with the highest unemployment rate in 26 years.

Thanks to ObamaCare’s mandates for comprehensive insurance, younger and healthier workers have no choice but to subsidize the premiums of older and sicker workers through their premiums.  In fact, I explained this before the passage of the ACA, in December 2009 when “Rock the Vote” proposed to get young people to withhold sex from anyone opposed to ObamaCare, apparently so that they could get screwed in both senses of the word:

First, the young people to whom they’re preaching largely avoid buying health insurance, and for good reason. They don’t need to spend $3600 per year (Minnesota’s average in 2007) to cover a couple of doctor visits every year. They’re better off buying catastrophic health insurance, rather than the mandated comprehensive coverage under ObamaCare, and use HSAs to pay for their health care with tax-free cash. That’s what Keith Olbermann does, after all, and he’s a lot older than the RtV target audience.

Who benefits from this push? The young adults don’t; they’re going to pay a lot more than they receive. Insurance companies will benefit by forcing them into the system, reducing the risk and spreading the costs over a wider base. I don’t consider insurance companies evil, but many of the ObamaCare advocates do — and yet they’re pushing their followers to subsidize slight declines in health insurance premiums for the older generations in America. It’s just like Social Security, only with a worse payoff in the end.

And in September 2009, I wrote a column for the now-defunct AIP explaining that the combination of HSAs, far-cheaper hospitalization insurance, and retail clinics would not only save younger and healthier people a boatload of money, it would also bend the overall cost curve downward by restoring pricing signals to the consumer rather than third-party payers.  That would put more of the actual cost of health care on those who utilize it.  I’m no special genius — but I can do math and know that most young people under 35 didn’t spend anywhere near enough to justify $3600 a year in comprehensive-insurance premiums, and won’t under ObamaCare, either, especially as premiums skyrocket.  Where does the rest of the money go in a risk pool?   It subsidizes those who do utilize providers more, the older and sicker.

Why didn’t Ben (who, by the way, is a nice guy and fun to work with otherwise) do the math himself three or more years ago?  Er …

The voices raised against age rating and other policies tend not to be the most credible. They are, first, conservatives who simply see this as another wedge against Obama and his new policy. Outlandish rhetoric about the health-care law’s threat to American freedom can make it hard for members of either party to consider policy on the merits; and so the proposal from Georgia Rep. Phil Gingrey (in the news of late for theorizing that ” tense and uptight” women, like, say, rape victims, are less likely to conceive children) to leave age discount decisions with the states is generally considered as gimmicky as its name: The Liberty Act. (It’s short for “Letting Insurance Benefit Everyone Regardless of Their Youth.”)

So no one did math because we conservatives didn’t like Obama and didn’t trust him? Maybe that’s because we actually did the math when it counted.  If more younger voters did the math in 2009, 2010, and especially 2012, perhaps they wouldn’t be on the hook for subsidies for older, wealthier Americans.

I’d say this gets the Eric “Otter” Stratton Award (NSFW):

Update: Reason’s Nick Gillespie points out some other ways in which Obama is sticking it to the younger generation:

As my colleague Matt Welch pointed out yesterday, SOTUs are equal parts WTF and completely forgettable, so it’ll all be over soon except for the ardent declarations that we can make lifesaving machines more quickly in a zero-gravity environment.

But if proprietor of the most open and transparent and clean-smelling administration of all time wants to make some real news, he might speak honestly to the segment of the American electorate that he is screwing over six ways to Sunday: Young voters between the ages of 18 and 29. Listen up, kids! Your parents are robbing your futures blind and you’re chumps enough not only to go along but to ask – like the adorable title orphan in the classic baby boomer musical Oliver! - please, sir, I want some more.

From virtually every possible angle, Obama is helping to diminish the prospects for today’s younger generation. First and foremost, his response to the Great Recession – stimulus and the massive piling up of debt – is slowing the recovery. Massive regulatory schemes such as Dodd-Frank and the creation of huge new soul-and-bucks-sucking programs such as Obamacare weigh heavily on the economy now and in the future too. His refusal to discuss seriously old-age entitlement reform – Medicare and Social Security and the 60 percent of Medicare that goes to old folks – is massive storm front on the economic horizon. His preference for secrecy and overreach when it comes to executive power won’t screw young people as obviously as his economic policies, but when he leaves office in 2017, he will have created far more terrorists than he needed to.

Be sure to read it all.


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The voices raised against age rating and other policies tend not to be the most credible. They are, first, conservatives who simply see this as another wedge against Obama and his new policy.

Don’t blame conservatives just because you were too stupid to see what was right in front of you, Ben. Notice how just about everything we warned about Obama has come to pass? It wasn’t because we were looking for wedge issues. It’s because we knew he’d be a sh-tty President whose policies would harm the very people he claimed to be looking out for.

Doughboy on February 12, 2013 at 2:07 PM

the health-care overhaul known as ObamaCare, are calculated to screw his most passionate supporters and to transfer wealth to his worst enemies.

I’m tempted towards schadenfreude, but it screws us all.

As for him not noticing it earlier, he is/was a willfully ignorant 0bama fluffing moron.

cozmo on February 12, 2013 at 2:08 PM

If I didn’t have young kids, I’d find this funny.
They didn’t vote.

These bozos did. And I expect them to STFU.

Jabberwock on February 12, 2013 at 2:08 PM

Hmm. I’m getting older. Maybe it’s not such a bad thing.
Ok, that was a joke! (/s) But the youth did vote overwhelmingly for it. Is it some kind of poetic justice that they get screwed?

anotherJoe on February 12, 2013 at 2:10 PM

And they’re even watering down the booze we’ll need to self-medicate ourselves during the next 20+ years of Democrat New Normal. Hey, is drinking standing water out of oak stumps covered by ObamaCare?

JeremiahJohnson on February 12, 2013 at 2:13 PM

The new format for these “I woke up and realized Obama’s plan kind of sucks” pieces by lib journalists all seem to include the “but republicans aren’t hip, so, meh” qualifier.

BKeyser on February 12, 2013 at 2:13 PM

The voices raised against age rating and other policies tend not to be the most credible. They are, first, conservatives who simply see this as another wedge against Obama and his new policy.

Let me put this as nicely as I can, Ben.

F you.

Purple Fury on February 12, 2013 at 2:16 PM

The trouble with not listening to someone who is older and wiser is that often they are telling you something you need to know but don’t want to hear.

They can blame it on “the Republicans were only looking for a wedge issue” all they want. It wasn’t true then and isn’t true now.

There was NEVER any possible way, short of repealing Math, that this was ever going to work.

They were told. But they wanted free birth control and abortions.

But those things were never, ever, going to be free.

Lily on February 12, 2013 at 2:18 PM

If I didn’t have young kids, I’d find this funny.
They didn’t vote.

These bozos did. And I expect them to STFU.

Jabberwock on February 12, 2013 at 2:08 PM

My kids are teenagers. I’ve made sure they know who is responsible.

Mr. D on February 12, 2013 at 2:19 PM

Suckers!

rbj on February 12, 2013 at 2:21 PM

Suckit, indoctrinated liberal youts.
A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you’ve got.

rayra on February 12, 2013 at 2:22 PM

Welllllllllllcome to Socialism. Enjoy your stay.

kim roy on February 12, 2013 at 2:23 PM

Suckers indeed. They all thought they were going to get almost free health care and their student loans were going to be forgiven. Wonder how’ll they’ll vote next time?

major dad on February 12, 2013 at 2:25 PM

Bet you don’t see any of the young and healthy complain…plus they would all vote for Obama again.

albill on February 12, 2013 at 2:27 PM

Suckers indeed. They all thought they were going to get almost free health care and their student loans were going to be forgiven. Wonder how’ll they’ll vote next time?

major dad on February 12, 2013 at 2:25 PM

Since they’ll be 4 yrs. older and without decent employment maybe they’ll apply common sense and logic along with some much needed critical thinking, however, since O and his crew are hitting High Schools, they’ll be a new crop of American Idol voters.

CoffeeLover on February 12, 2013 at 2:29 PM

I’m sure many fans of this debacle won’t believe the truth until the bill come due. By then, though, it will be so far along that the system will be impossible to dismantle, like how the mobilizations in Europe right before WWI had progressed to the point that war was inevitable though the leaders didn’t really want one.

I’m still going to enjoy the tears of liberals when this whole mess they wanted finally kicks them in the head.

Liam on February 12, 2013 at 2:32 PM

Bet you don’t see any of the young and healthy complain…plus they would all vote for Obama again.

albill on February 12, 2013 at 2:27 PM

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2013/01/08/Obama-Voters-Furious-About-Tax-Hikes

@CZebari22 Damn the taxes killed me. I should have voted Romney

@crushonchrissy I’m starting to regret voting for Obama.

@gekka_88 I have a friend who voted for Obama publicly complaining about the new #SS tax raise. I would just like to say: You did this to yourself.

@VAisforlovas But really how am I ever supposed to pay off my student loans if my already small paycheck keeps getting smaller? Help a sister out, Obama

One comment on the liberal site DemocraticUnderground.com. whined:

What happened that my Social Security withholding’s in my paycheck just went up? My paycheck just went down by an amount that I don’t feel comfortable with. I guarantee this decrease is gonna’ hurt me more than the increase in income taxes will hurt those making over 400 grand. What happened?”

Another comment, by “DemocratToTheEnd” was, “My boyfriend has had a lot of expenses and is feeling squeezed right now, and having his paycheck shrink really didn’t help.”

“Nancy Thongkham” gave a measured response to the new taxes she would have to pay: “F***ing Obama! F*** you! This taking out more taxes s*** better f***ing help me out!! Very upset to see my paycheck less today!”

Complain yes.

Sadly you are right, they will still vote Democrat because they are incapable of seeing the world as it really is.

sharrukin on February 12, 2013 at 2:35 PM

Drew over at Ace of Spades has an alternate view:

http://minx.cc/?post=337462

ObamaCare will end up heavily taxing the middle class and the rich to fund “health care” for the poor and the increasing amounts of people who can’t afford rising cost health care.

gwelf on February 12, 2013 at 2:38 PM

From virtually every possible angle, Obama is helping to diminish the prospects for today’s younger generation.

Newsflash: the Progressive ideology sounds great in the classroom but it does not work in real life over an extended period of time.

visions on February 12, 2013 at 2:48 PM

Firstly, to my fellow conservatives of age, with children or planning on having children: I feel your pain and hopefully this trainwreck can be reversed.

To all those that indeed were under the mistaken assumptions that:
Health care would be free under Obama
Your take home pay would be better under Obama
Your gas prices would go down under Obama
Unemployment would go down to pre recession levels under Obama
The world would love you again under Obama
Progressive little ponyland ( hat tip RWM) would be a new permanent state because of Obama.

I’ve got two words for you….

HA. HA.

can_con on February 12, 2013 at 2:49 PM

Own it kiddies

cmsinaz on February 12, 2013 at 2:50 PM

I hate Obaamacare (yes, baa) as much as I hate, hate, yes HATE Liberals. It isn’t the individual mandate that I so loathe as much as the federal government mandating our coverage, i.e. the minimum benefits we all MUST purchase regardless of need.

I got my new W-2 and was pleasantly surprised to find that the company only pays $3,800 for their portion of my family plan. I myself contribute only an additional $160/month, up from $120 thanks to Obamacare.

How so low? I have a high deductible ($10k) plan with an HSA. I’ve been in my current company 4 years and have yet to spend over my deductible so have never actually used my insurance. This keeps the price of my policy low.

So what does Obamacare do? Bans these kinds of plans. Why? Because rather than my money being used to subsidize someone else’s coverage, it goes into my HSA account where I get to keep it AND take a tax deduction for it.

The Left are destructive tyrants who are singlemindedly determined to enslave all of us to government.

Screw the dumbass young voters who voted for Obama because he’s “cool” and he “cares” about them. Useful idiots.

Charlemagne on February 12, 2013 at 2:59 PM

Unless the country somehow installs the requirement to maintain the positive balance between federal taxes and federal candy in any form to cast a vote (including retirees, as those who worked have a huge positive balance) and rams this idea up the nine shriveled asses in the ivory tower of the Supreme Court, we are thoroughly and absolutely irreversibly focked.

Archivarix on February 12, 2013 at 2:59 PM

I’m glad for 2 things:

1. I have (for now) a job that provides me with health insurance.

2. I have (for now) many liberal friends who do not.

You voted for it, time to sleep in the bed you made for yourselves.

LukeinNE on February 12, 2013 at 3:01 PM

Fat, drunk and stupid is the new way of no way to go through life, son.

Correct based on Obamanomics.

LoganSix on February 12, 2013 at 3:04 PM

Youngin’s: keep voting Democrat and you’ll keep on getting surprises like OBAMAcare… and gun control…

Elections have consequences… belly up to the bar and drink your medicine…

Khun Joe on February 12, 2013 at 3:05 PM

But Obama was the candidate ‘who cares about people like me’ according to exit polls.

Schmucks.

Not all the young folks of course, but far too many.

lynncgb on February 12, 2013 at 3:08 PM

The young “ain’t seen nothin yet’and there won’t be many slots to go into the military either.

docflash on February 12, 2013 at 3:15 PM

The title to Smith’s column says it all. Don’t bother to read further, the rest of it is a pile.

Point is, the low info youth who voted for Obama are about to ram wallet-first into reality.

Full speed ahead, kids! And have a nice day!

novaculus on February 12, 2013 at 3:15 PM

Obamacare ‘sticks it’ to EVERYBODY….and Liberals will defend this thing to the death simply over partisanship, even though they will even admit it is a P.O.S.!

easyt65 on February 12, 2013 at 3:18 PM

Soooo……

Sandra Fluke will end up subsidizing condoms for middle aged men?

Sweet irony.

MichaelGabriel on February 12, 2013 at 3:19 PM

Obamacare was peddled as a vast improvement on the existing system. Obamacare was going to provide a heath system. The cost of heath care was going to decrease….more people would have high quality insurance and the coverage would be much better for everyone….certainly the government mandated policies would not do things like deny coverage to ….less than healthy people like overweight….people with mental and physical problems and certainly Obamacare would not lessen the standard of medical care….

How is that working out in reality? Insurance premiums are rising not decreasing….(According to the IRS $20,000 for a family of 5.) In California they had “discovered” they do not have enough doctors etc….so they are considering allowing PAs and other less qualified medical people to practice medicine…Just visualize being in a doctors office and finding out the person treating you lets you know they stayed at Holiday Inn Express last night….and if you are overweight….well now they can charge you more and deny you coverage…..all things the Obama crowd would have been howling about if a private insurance carrier had done…

DVPTexFla on February 12, 2013 at 3:31 PM

Two things:

(1) They are getting free birth control. It will just cost them $3,600/year for the privilege. (Welcome to reality where there is no such thing as a free lunch – it was about time they all learned that lesson.)

and

(2) These same low information, college educated voters will flock to the polls in 2016 to vote in another historic election where they elect Hillary Clinton as the first woman president. It will be irresistible I tell you. Until then the Dems will spare no energy in assuring the nation that Republicans hate women and opposing Hillary is proof positive. When she finds a gay Hispanic as her running mate it will be an Election for the Ages [copyright 2013].

in_awe on February 12, 2013 at 3:45 PM

Own it kiddies

cmsinaz on February 12, 2013 at 2:50 PM

I refuse to “own” anything I never possessed or cared to. I have nothing but disgust for the part of my generation responsible. They are the dumbest of dumb and I leave this entirely in their hands. My only remorse comes when I get my paycheck to find half of it missing. I feel sorry for none of them. Just more divide created in this “utopia.”

RDE2010 on February 12, 2013 at 3:47 PM

I seldom post here anymore. Today I will chime in with a I am getting very resentful about the boomers being blamed for something we didn’t do. If these young idiots had a brain enough of them would have voted (R) to elect Romney and probably a Senate majority. Why should I feel guilty about ripping off these young idiots?

Don’t fool yourself, as these young fools get older they will continue voting for a free lunch and the cool guy. Maybe we Conservatives could come up with a cool enough candidate to get a second look but with our platform of no free lunches that’s all we are going to get.

Most conservative and centerist commentators have missed the purpose of the Obama program. It isn’t to provide free stuff, it’s to enslave the public with government handouts. Once you are on some sort of dole, you are not getting off. This is the Chicago machine gone national. His goal from the very start has been 20% on pure welfare, 75% working poor and lower middle class all ruled over by a 5% nomklatura/kleptocratic class. He is already there. Welcome to the ghetto.

jerryofva on February 12, 2013 at 3:53 PM

If more younger voters did the math in 2009, 2010, and especially 2012, perhaps they wouldn’t be on the hook for subsidies for older, wealthier Americans

Elections have consequences. The young voters wanted Obama, now they get to live with their decision. Maybe they should quit playing with their iPods and smart phones and get an education and find out what Washington is really doing to them.

TulsAmerican on February 12, 2013 at 4:05 PM

Payback, finally!
Does my heart good to know liberals will suffer the consequence of socialized medicine along with the rest of us.
Hey, enjoy your free birth control!

Belle on February 12, 2013 at 4:24 PM

As I mentioned on another thread:

Prices are going up – big time, because whenever you are not allowed to do proper underwriting the risk increases must be spread to all – this hits the individual and small group markets strongly. In fact, insurance industry experts expect the small group market to evaporate as the exchanges come on line – if they do – and at prices even with subsidy that will be greater than what we see today. Individual policy price spikes due to coverage requirements are also above 20% in most areas with some greater increases also reported.

Those groups which are small will have the greatest volatility.

To McD’s snarky answer – most of the most aggressive single payer models in the world have the worst outcomes – with the UK and Canada being extremely poor. Canada in fact is very quietly allowing private insurance to resurface just as they expect their safety valve US hospitals to become less reliable due to reform.

The only groups correct about PPACA were the employers and their benefit consultants. And their predictions were all negative. Welcome to the evolving two tier health system. I will be fine, but what the poor have to face with medicaid is about to be visited on a greater number of the middle class than anyone realizes.

Drew at Ace is wrong – the young will pay more and the old will pay less more. In reality everyone will pay more. Those with good jobs and wealth will maintain a private plan that though expensive will provide access, speed of treatment, and the best doctors and facilities. The rest will get a public exchange plan or a medicaid expansion plan and will wait a long time to see a doctor – or PA or NP, let alone getting any procedures done in a timely fashion. Think the current Medicaid jungle expanded to grab more of the middle class and new college grads who cannot find full time jobs with benefits because you know who is strangling the recovery.

Liberals are almost always wrong – and they almost always hurt the people they propose to help. Some because they are idealistically stupid, others because they are evil power hungry control freaks who want to continue in their role as a public servant sucking their constituents dry.

Zomcon JEM on February 12, 2013 at 4:39 PM

Ben Smith reports that ObamaCare is actually a wealth-redistribution system in the most regressive manner possible.

Some people take a long time to wake up. The rest never do.

GarandFan on February 12, 2013 at 4:49 PM

Anyone that actually read the bill would have realized it stickes it to the young and healthy.

talkingpoints on February 12, 2013 at 9:59 PM

Count it!

tom daschle concerned on February 13, 2013 at 12:53 PM