We have all been sitting, more or less, on the edge of our seats, wondering what this whole new health care thing is going to look like. Well, I read an article on Friday on a CBS newsfeed. I found it interesting that, in bold print, at the bottom of the article, there were disclaimers. Big black letters alerting me to the fact that CBS does not receive federal funding like PBS and that CBS does not receive grants from the government.....Evidently, what CBS exposed is not going to be well viewed by those in authority, and they just want to make sure that we, the people, understand that there is some credibility and veracity to the items discussed. And, do I perceive that the love affair between our present administration and the media has hit the rocks? Heading for divorce court perhaps? Gosh, truth in reporting would have been nice over, oh let's say, the last four years or so, but I guess better late than never-or maybe not! After all, once the train gets a rolling, how are we going to stop it, or worse yet, get it back on track?
The article, in a nutshell, was discussing what is on everyone's mind. What is the penalty for not complying with the health care mandate. There are already employers out there thinking that paying the penalty might actually be easier and cheaper than complying. There are other companies who are looking to make their entire workforce part time, and therefore not subject to the mandates. In previous posts, I have already indicated why I believe that these two scenarios are counterproductive to getting us all back to work, so I won't bore anyone with a rehash, but suffice it to say, nothing in this article does anything to reassure anyone that the government has our best interests at heart. You see, the mechanism for assessing penalty is to be the IRS, and folks will get slam dunked at tax time for their failure to participate. It will even be pro-rated by the number of months that you failed to participate, if I am understanding the explanations correctly. So if you were not insured for three of the twelve calendar months, there will be this handy dandy formula for computing your penalties.....But in order to compute penalties, and to "make it fair", the IRS had to come up with a figure upon which to base the penalties. Belatedly, I think that it also occurred to the powers in Washington that the penalties had to discourage non-compliance rather than make it a desirable option. To that end, the IRS tried to calculate what the average American family will be paying for health insurance coverage, by the time this entire program is in place, complete with the government insurance exchanges. The estimate is that by 2018, an average American family of four will pay $20,000.00 per year for their health insurance.....Yup! $20,000.00!!! Now if you buy a car, or a boat, you get 5-7 years to pay that amount of money off. If you buy a house, it is spread out over 15, 20, 30 years or more.....Our government estimates that this amount will be coming out of your wallet each and every year in order to have 'affordable health care". Affordable for whom? The politicians who have exempted themselves from the mandates. The unions who have already gotten exceptions to the rules. And what about all those folks that work for minimum wage or a bit above? A job paying $10 per hour is only $20,000.00 per year total income before taxes are taken. What about these folks?
Well, it appears that our government has decided that those below certain income levels will be getting tax credits and subsidies, depending upon how far below they fall in total income...I guess the next logical question is where do the subsidies come from? We already spend more money than we take in. With so many people unemployed and underemployed, we also take in a great deal less tax revenue. How are we to pay for all these folks to have their health insurance without taking their last dime to do so? Methinks that is why the average, translate that working, family of four in America will be paying $20,000.00 per year in health insurance. (By the way, the estimate reflects the lowest level of insurance coverage allowed under the exchange system, not the best coverage.)
So, exactly how does this constitute "affordable health care" for everyone? How does this encourage employers to hire employees and offer reasonable benefit packages? How does this insure that the American people will have discretionary income to spend on big screen TV's, vacation trips, new cars, homes, and all the other things that provide jobs for goods and services in our country? How many people on the borderline, financially, will slip under the waves and become dependent because of this requirement? And will anybody actually get more access to health care than we already have?
Basically, it is the same old/same old, wrapped up in a pretty new package with political and media spin. A whole lot of people will pay nothing for their healthcare, because they are poor...No change there! And it appears that a whole lot of people, who were able to tread water, are going under as well. I think that means that there will be more poor people not paying for health care....If there is anything wrong with my logic, please let me know. If you take a family who earns $40,000.00 per year and essentially cut their gross income in half with the health care mandate, then they now have to run that family of four on $20,000.00 per year for all other expenses. You aren't buying a house on $20,000.00 per year income. You probably aren't buying a car either. It is questionable whether you could keep the family car in good repair and filled with gas at that income level and still be able to eat. And if that family at $40,000.00 per year gets subsidy or tax credit or both due to income level, where is that money coming from? And if you are taking it out of businesses in the form of higher taxes, then who is going to be hired for more than minimum wage and more than 30 hours per week?
Statistics show that the average American family, with insurance, seldom actually spend enough on health care in a year to cover their deductible. Maybe 5-10% actually spend the out of pocket $5000.00 required before insurance actually pays at the full rate. The $5000.00 deductible is in addition to what they pay for their insurance per year. Now if an average family seldom uses the $5000.00 deductible, how can coverage cost $20,000.00 per year? What is costing $20,000.00 per year? Exactly what are families paying for? Gosh, wouldn't we all like to go to the bank, hand the teller a $5.00 bill and get a twenty back? That seems to be the math, does it not? And, let us not forget that the IRS is basing this figure on the most basic, no frills sorts of insurance coverage. I am guessing it is kind of like the basic mandatory auto insurance policy that one must have to get plates and renew a driver's license, and I am also guessing that like bargain basement car insurance, this basic policy isn't going to cover a whole lot for the $20,000.00 price tag. And what will real insurance, the type of coverage that most working Americans are accustomed to receiving from an employer or purchasing for their family, actually cost? And who will be able to afford anything other than the basic, bargain basement, policy? After all, we are all being downsized as employers attempt to reign in the cost of benefits. At the very least, folks are not receiving raises and bonuses, and in most cases, their share of the insurance premiums have increased, as have deductibles and co-payments. Prescription coverage is sometimes cut as a savings measure, and in most cases, prescriptions don't count toward your deductible figure.
The actual costs at the clinic, the hospital, the outpatient centers, and the pharmacy have all gone up. Wonder what the cost of an aspirin or Tylenol will be in 2018? I don't know about you, but this is really the Cujo of the American Health Care Act. I find it infinitely more frightening than anything Stephen King has written to date, because it is real, not fiction. It doesn't just end because we close the paper, or turn off the evening news. It is going to affect everyone adversely, and does not seem to materially change the situation that we had before, other than to insure that fewer people can afford the health care that everyone seems to want. And by the way.....just to clarify things, in case you might have been confused by the media hype, the new health care law does not mean that you will get your health care for free. I have actually met people deferring medical procedures and avoiding preventative care, because they are convinced that after January 1st, 2014, it will be free, so why pay for it now?
Filed under: The Job Search