STUMP » Articles » Obamacare Watch: Things are Going Great! Except for a Few People We Shouldn't Care About » 30 March 2015, 17:53

Where Stu & MP spout off about everything.

Obamacare Watch: Things are Going Great! Except for a Few People We Shouldn't Care About  


30 March 2015, 17:53

At least, that’s what Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman says:

Finally, there’s the never-ending hunt for snarks and boojums — for ordinary, hard-working Americans who have suffered hardship thanks to health reform. As we’ve just seen, Obamacare opponents by and large don’t do math (and they’re sorry when they try). But all they really need are a few sob stories, tales of sympathetic individuals who have been impoverished by some aspect of the law.

Remarkably, however, they haven’t been able to find those stories. Early last year, Americans for Prosperity, a Koch brothers-backed group, ran a series of ads featuring alleged Obamacare victims — but not one of those tales of woe stood up to scrutiny. More recently, Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Washington State took to Facebook to ask for Obamacare horror stories. What she got instead was a torrent of testimonials from people whose lives have been improved, and in some cases saved, by health reform.

In reality, the only people hurt by health reform are Americans with very high incomes, who have seen their taxes go up, and a relatively small number of people who have seen their premiums rise because they’re young and healthy (so insurers previously saw them as good risks) and affluent (so they don’t qualify for subsidies). Neither group supplies suitable victims for attack ads.

Yeah, screw those people.

But before we get too dismissive, let’s check on exactly which people are being swept into this pile.

So, the subsidies are completely gone for those who make more than 400% the Federal Poverty Level, which depends on household size:

1 $46,680
2 $62,920
3 $79,160
4 $95,400
5 $111,640
6 $127,880
7 $144,120
8 $160,360

I will grant you that a household making $160K/year is high income. But that’s 8 people.

Just an FYI – a single person making about $47K/year is not high income. I mean, I understand that Krugman with his puny academic salary of $225K (on top of whatever NYTimes pays him) might indicate he doesn’t know normal household incomes are, but eh.

In the graph below, I’ve put in the distribution of household income from the American Community Survey 5-year estimates

Lots of households, family households, are not going to be getting this subsidy. But hey, maybe they have coverage through employers.

For now.

But let’s look at the other group of screwees: young people. They’re having to pay much higher premiums than they really cost in terms of their risk.

Yeah, screw the young. They should just suck it up. See, look at these moochers defaulting on their student loans. I bet Krugman is against them.

Wait, what’s this?

Here’s economist Paul Krugman in a recent public interview. [May 2012]

PAUL KRUGMAN, columnist, The New York Times: The preponderance of the evidence is that the biggest single factor keeping us where we are, keeping us in this depression is the overhang of debt.

PAUL SOLMAN: And student debt, we asked him a few days later.

PAUL KRUGMAN: Household debt is the big ball and chain on this economy, and student debt is a big part of it.

PAUL SOLMAN: But how, you might wonder, could people like Ricky Evans, age 32, who works in finance in the D.C. area and earns upwards of $70,000 a year, still have student loans of more than $80,000?

Okay, that’s Paul Solman sympathetically talking about the high income guy, not Krugman.

But wait:

I mean, “get the education”? And pay for it how? Tuition at public colleges and universities has soared, in part thanks to sharp reductions in state aid. Mr. Romney isn’t proposing anything that would fix that; he is, however, a strong supporter of the Ryan budget plan, which would drastically cut federal student aid, causing roughly a million students to lose their Pell grants.

So how, exactly, are young people from cash-strapped families supposed to “get the education”? Back in March Mr. Romney had the answer: Find the college “that has a little lower price where you can get a good education.” Good luck with that. But I guess it’s divisive to point out that Mr. Romney’s prescriptions are useless for Americans who weren’t born with his advantages.

There is, however, a larger issue: even if students do manage, somehow, to “get the education,” which they do all too often by incurring a lot of debt, they’ll be graduating into an economy that doesn’t seem to want them.

But hey, screw them to make them pay more for health insurance, so the oldies can retire before 65, so they can get heavily subsidized Obamacare policies.

I happen to live in the state where it’s worse than Obamacare — they don’t allow age-rating at all, so a 25-year-old is supposed to pay the same for a policy as a 60-year-old.

At least Obamacare allows some age differentials (even if the state of New York does not), but they are a bit more restrictive than the “natural” difference in costs.

Thing is, Krugman has missed a whole bunch of other screwees. Such as the people not getting their calls answered by the IRS (whether or not they need help with their Obamacare taxes). The union groups looking at their health plans getting hit by the Cadillac tax. People getting a surprise $800 added to their taxes. Oh, and watch out for the subsidy cliff, — maybe you should get divorced and avoid that.

So yes, Krugman. Obamacare is going peachy. And what’s so amusing is that pretty much all of the “benefits” of Obamacare have been implemented, while the pain of some of the taxes and removal of programs has yet to occur.

And some of the pain, like the subsidy clawback, occurs to people every year.

So yes, you keep talking up how great Obamacare is, Krugman. I suppose the Democrats don’t have too many more political positions to lose. Can only be on the rise! Yes!


Okay, maybe not.

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