It is axiomatic that when government has to pay for big programs, it's the middle class that takes the hit. The promises are always otherwise, but in the end, there's just no other way to pay for them, and by the time the middle class realizes they've been had, it's too late.
Such is the case with Obamacare. In addition to President Obama's now infamous pledge that "If you like your health insurance plan, you can keep your health insurance plan", there was a second oft-repeated, and false, sales pitch: Obamacare would save the average American family (translation: the middle class) $2,500 a year in premiums.
Predictably, it has done no such thing. An article last week in the usually Obama-friendly New York Times makes the case. The article focused on people the Times says are "caught in the uncomfortable middle: not poor enough for help, but not rich enough to be indifferent to cost."
The article notes that hundreds of thousands of such people have had their policies canceled because the policies did not meet the coverage requirements of the new law. It says that many such people are now shocked to find that replacement insurance on government exchanges is unaffordable. Particularly hard hit, says the Times, are people in their 50s and 60s.
The Times says experts consider health insurance to be unaffordable if it exceeds 10 percent of annual income. But an analysis conducted by the newspaper found that for those in the "uncomfortable middle" the cost of coverage on Obamacare exchanges "varies widely across the country and rises rapidly for people in their 50s and 60s. In some places, prices can quickly approach 20 percent of a person's income."
In upholding the constitutionality of Obamacare's individual mandate, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts concluded the mandate is permissible because it is really a tax. While constitutional scholars may forever argue that point, it becomes more apparent every day that the effect of the law is a massive wealth transfer, one that is largely being taken out of the hide of the middle class in the form of higher health insurance premiums.
It is also somewhat fascinating politically to observe that the law - which was passed without a single Republican vote - appears to be hitting a couple of key Democratic constituencies particularly hard: young people, who are being required to buy more expensive policies despite being relatively low-volume users of the health care system; and people approaching retirement age, whom Democrats have tried to court by posturing as defenders of health entitlements. And of course the Democrats have long proclaimed themselves champions of the middle class.
As the Times piece points out, all of those groups are only now getting their first taste of Obamacare, and if you happen to be a Democrat who voted for the law, it's probably a good time to hide.
Ronald Reagan famously said the nine most terrifying words in the English language are: "I'm from the government and I'm here to help." Apparently that's particularly true for people in the middle class, as Obamacare is painfully proving.
John C Partin, M.D. posted on: Wednesday, December 25, 2013 11:30 AM
Without the Affordable Care Act seriously injury or other serious illness will often lead to financial catastrophe and bankruptcy for "ordinary" middle class citizens. Those who rail against the act never offer a solution for this reality.