Selling Snake Oil

(4 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

Ezra Klein, BiT (Broderite-in-Training) does his best to comfort a single mother about her Health Care prospects.

A reader writes in:


I do not understand how this bill will affect my family and me. I am a self-employed single mother. I cannot afford health care for myself and my children. I made $38,000 last year and I expect to make less than $35,000 this year. What does this health care reform mean for me? Will I be able to get coverage for my children and myself in this first year?

Not in the first year, necessarily. But when the bill goes into effect in 2014, your situation will change dramatically. Using the Kaiser Family Foundation’s premium calculator and a slightly stylized version of your situation (the calculator is not terribly flexible), here’s what I can say:

First, you’ll be buying insurance on the exchanges. That means no discrimination based on preexisting conditions, insurers who are being watched and regulated, lots of choices, and the buying power that comes from being part of a large risk pool rather than being on your own.

More specifically, your income would make you eligible for substantial subsidies. About $11,571 worth, to be precise (this is keyed to a family of four, I should say). The cap on your premium payments as a percentage of your income would be 4.4 percent. You’d be paying about $1,540 a year.

So for the next four years, this single working mother of at least two will be stuck waiting for the privilege to pay an extra $1500 she doesn’t have (not including copays and deductibles) for a bare bones health insurance policy that won’t even cover her if she becomes pregnant again accidentally.  And the best part?  If she doesn’t pay her mandated tithe to a for-profit insurer, the IRS will fine her even more money she doesn’t have.

Quite a sell job Obama & Co. has created for itself, don’t you think?  

After all of the teabagging hoopla, the breathless media coverage, and the Presidential hopenotics that have intentionally raised outsized expectations about what Obamacare actually does, the Dems are now forced to defend this deeply flawed and regressive legislation for the next two election cycles before most of the alleged ‘benefits’ (such as they are) even begin to kick in.

So get used to four more years of pandering Ezra Klein posts chock full of platitudes about ‘choice’ and ‘buying power’ (neither of which actually exists under this legislation) and specious arguments that if we all just stay patient, keep Smoking the Hopium*, and vote for the Democrats, our Brave New Healthcare Order awaits.

That is, of course, assuming there are any Democrats left in four years.

*h/t TheMomCat

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  1. of the book title, “The Audacity of Hope” when it was first released.

    Maybe the real intent was to convey the message that it requires audacity to hope.

  2. Dems must not only “defend” it but champion it, sell it … like Pirelli’s Miracle Elixir.

  3. this will be interesting as the amount of tax fine obligations finish burying the already impoverished…..

    • Xanthe on March 23, 2010 at 12:54 am

    Will people who take the fines be subject to having their property seized by the IRS? cars – condos.  Are they easing the Medicaid restrictions on property?

  4. will support it more.  And some articles I have read today, including a particularly egregious Salon article, include things that aren’t in the bills, including the public option.

    I think the idea that support will increase with the bill as it now sits is a grave political error.

  5. The fine is like, 100 bucks, right? And that’s just if she uses services.

    It IS odd that so much stuff will take so much time. What a pain.

    That said, pregnancy is preventable if both parties are serious about it (or if one party is VERY serious about it).  

  6. One thing I’ve been wondering about is how a person is supposed to pay for the premiums the first year, before one has received the tax credit.

    I’m assuming that a premium payment will be due every month and at the end of the year, (after this woman has paid some 13K in premiums) one gets the 11K back as a tax credit.

    Is that how it will work?

  7. Social Security is still dragging it’s feet about providing me with disability benefits that I am not only entitled to but paid into. And I do need medical care badly. When will us living on the margins finally be able to go to the doctor? I wanted to add “without fear,” to my last question but as an FTM that would be too much to ask.

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