Near the end of a long article in the Washington Post about the resistance people have in Oklahoma to buying car insurance or being told what to do by the government, we encounter an anonymous man who has no health insurance and doesn't like the insurance mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act:
On a recent morning at the center, patients waited in avocado-green chairs to pick up medicine or see a doctor. John, 37, who would not give his last name, said he could not afford health insurance for himself, his wife and his five children on his $38,000 salary as an apartment manager. He said he resents the idea that the government could compel him to do something he may not be able to afford.
“I don’t think the government should have the right to force people to do anything unless it’s following a criminal law or something,” he said.
This man has a large family. It's larger than can be accounted for by the Kaiser Foundation health care subsidy calculator, which only will allow me to enter a maximum family size of four. Since he has a family size of seven, I can't get a precise measure of what this man stands to get under ObamaCare, but it will be more generous than what I report here.
A 37 year-old man with a family of four and an annual income of $38,000 is making 162% of the poverty rate. A typical health care plan for such a family would cost $11,384, so it's easy to see why this man cannot afford a policy. Under the new law, the maximum percentage of income a person/family has to pay for the premium if eligible for a subsidy is 4.56%. What this means is that the government will give this man $9,650 a year to insure himself and his whole family. He is obligated to pay $1,734.
Let's break this down. Right now, he has no health insurance and it will cost him over eleven thousand dollars to buy a policy for his family. Under the new law, he can cover his whole family for $1,734 or he can pay a tax penalty of $695 and keep his entire family uninsured. So, essentially, the true cost of getting insured is $1,139. The true cost of remaining uninsured is $695 and all the untold risk that entails.
And, again, because his family size is seven and not four, I am underestimating the benefit he will receive.
Now, I hate the mandate because it attempts to compel people to buy private for-profit health insurance, and I don't think we should use insurance as the way to pay for health care. But this guy is probably totally unaware of the real choice he is facing. He is being offered a chance to avoid the risk of foreclosure on his house and total bankruptcy if any of his seven family members become seriously ill for a price tag of less than $1,800 a year when a normal policy currently costs in excess of $11,000 and would constitute more than a quarter of his annual income.
On top of that, his annual out-of-pocket expenses will be capped at $4,167 (based on a family of four) while he currently has no cap on that whatsoever.
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