Obamacare creating medical class warfare

Obamacare creating medical class warfare

by
Fred Birnbaum
September 21, 2016
Fred Birnbaum
Author Image
September 21, 2016

We at the Idaho Freedom Foundation often struggle to explain a complex subject, such as medical public policy, to a broad audience. Many Idahoans understand from personal experience promises made by President Barack Obama regarding the Affordable Care Act haven’t come to pass — keeping your doctor, keeping your health-care plan and making health-care more affordable.

But there’s another problem with Obamacare. It’s creating medical class warfare by pitting those who get government-paid health care against those who don’t.

Here’s how. Medicaid expansion is designed to provide medical care to adults between the ages of 19 and 64 who are not disabled. It comes without costs to them but at a cost to taxpayers. For those given this benefit under Obamacare, paid for with other people’s money, it’s all good news.

So how do you qualify for this benefit? Well, the easiest way would be not to work or to simply restrict hours worked to fewer than 30 per week, at minimum wage. At $9 per hour, as a single person, you would have to limit your work week to 25 hours to qualify. So, if you choose to work part time, you get 100 percent government paid health care, as an able-bodied adult, under Medicaid expansion.

Idahoans who choose to work full-time, running a business and raising families, aren’t so fortunate. According to a Brookings Institute analysis of Department of Labor data, health-care costs are gobbling up an increasing share of middle-class families’ spending. From 2007 to 2014, the family’s share of income spent on health care has increased 24.8 percent.

Not surprisingly, it has declined 7.6 percent on food, 18.8 percent on clothing and 6 percent on housing. That’s right — middle class families are cutting back on food, clothing and shelter to pay for Obamacare.

The Idaho Freedom Foundation got a taste of this bitter medicine when our rates increased 18 percent late this year for our policy with Select Health.  The irony is that we chose Select Health to avoid an even bigger increase from Blue Cross; a similar plan from Blue Cross would have resulted in a 31 percent premium increase this year.

But this isn’t the end of the story. The medical class warfare isn’t simply about Idahoans on private insurance versus those on Medicaid. It’s also about those who work for government, at different levels, and have been shielded from these huge cost increases.

For example, employees of Idaho’s state government have insurance they pay for, in part. But they’ve been shielded from the increases in their private insurance costs — hugely. In state fiscal year (SFY) 2014, Idaho taxpayers picked up the 6 percent increase in health insurance. In SFY 2015, the taxpayers again picked up the full increase, of 15.9 percent. For SFY 2016, it was 6 percent, and for SFY 2017 (which began July 1, 2016) it was 9.3 percent. That’s a cumulative 37.2 percent health-care cost increase over four years passed to taxpayers.

So there you have it. We have a class of medical consumers that pays nothing, a class of consumers that gets coverage under private plans  mostly covered by their employers or with subsidies through a health-care exchange, a class that works for government and have been mostly shielded from the cost horrors of Obamacare, and then the rest of us. In the final category are those who work full time to support their families and are bled dry by Obamacare’s false promises, which, in reality, are medical class warfare.

fred-table

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