No wonder Ted Cruz and the Republicans are having hissy fits over Obamacare. They aren’t scared it will be a disaster. They’re scared it will be a huge success:
In Tennessee, sticker-price premiums are well below the national monthly average, officials said. That’s before taking into account tax credits that work like an up-front discount for most consumers.
For instance, premiums under the cheapest, or bronze, plan would average $181 a month, the third-lowest rate in the country after Oklahoma and Minnesota.
Premiums under the next-highest level, or Silver, plan would average $235 a month, the second-lowest rate in the country after Minnesota.
Death of another right-wing talking point. Ah, well.
We’ve seen a lot of teeth-gnashing and rendering of garments over employers cutting their health benefits for part-timers, pushing them onto the exchanges. The case of Trader Joe’s has gone viral, with the company explaining itself thusly:
Rather than provide affordable options for purchasing health insurance to part timers (those working less than 30 hours weekly), as Trader Joe’s does now, as of January the company will simply cut them a $500 check to help cover the costs of obtaining coverage under the new exchanges forming under the rubric of the Affordable Care Act.
This, in a nutshell, is Trader Joe’s reasoning, quoted from the email:
Stated quite simply, the law is centered on providing low cost options to people who do not make a lot of money. Somewhat by definition, the law provides those people a pretty good deal for insurance … a deal that can’t be matched by us — or any company. However, an individual employee (we call them Crew Member) is only able to receive the tax credit from the exchanges under the act if we do not offer them insurance under our company plan.
The email offers the example of a single mom making $18 an hour working 25 hours a week who currently pays $166.50 per month for her Trader Joe’s coverage. With the tax credits under the ACA, the message says, she can get nearly identical insurance for roughly half that under an Obamacare health insurance exchange. Add to that the $500 she’ll get in January and the bleak picture of lost benefits starts to change rather dramatically.
Over at Forbes, David Whelan whines that it’s “unfair” that he has to subsidize these part-timers, writing:
Here is the fairness issue. Like most working Americans, I pay an arm and a leg to provide my family with a health plan. I pay my own share of the premium and I forego the tax-adjusted employer-provided portion in higher income. I also have seen my taxes go up, on investments, Medicare, and after we went over the fiscal cliff. I also saw my future Medicare benefits decrease while new taxes on health products (devices, insurance) have been passed on to me indirectly.
So in a variety of ways, through new taxes and a loss of services, taxpayers are now paying not only for their own coverage but also for others to get almost-free health care.
There’s a lot wrong with this, but let’s start with “taxpayers are now paying not only for their own coverage but also for others to get almost-free health care.” Dude. Taxpayers already pay for this — a lot. A LOT. We pay more for healthcare than any other developed country in the world and we already subsidize, through higher healthcare costs, those who are uninsured and underinsured. It’s the cost of the broken healthcare system we currently have.
A helpful video:
A lot of what I see Obamacare doing is unhooking our health insurance access from employment. This is a major social transformation, but it’s one that is utterly predictable given the major workplace transformation which has taken place over the past 20 years: namely, the shift toward “independent contractors” and “part-time workers.”
This is something that hit my life about 20 years ago: even when I was “hired” by an employer, I was still considered an “independent contractor,” meaning I was responsible for my own health insurance (not to mention my own “pension”). And then there are the “part-timers” — that increasingly large share of the workforce given limited hours at places like Walmart, precisely so these companies don’t have to pay benefits.
This transformation in the workplace is very real, and it’s utterly predictable that there would have to be some kind of shift in our health insurance and pension delivery systems to accommodate those who no longer get benefits from their employers. You just can’t pretend these changes haven’t happened and carry on with an outdated system.
While most of us on the left would have preferred universal health care — “Medicare for all” — this is at least a start. No one should be forced to stay at their sucky job because they’re afraid to lose their health insurance. No one should be forced to declare personal bankruptcy because they can’t afford their medical bills because their crappy policy won’t cover them (or they couldn’t afford the policy in the first place). These are realities for millions of people.
And I have to wonder if some employers aren’t fighting Obamacare because they don’t want to lose that element of control over their workers? The “you can’t quit because you’ll lose your healthcare” cudgel?