Archive for February, 2014

Obamacare’s latest target: Low-income college students

Monday, February 24th, 2014

Originally posted at The Daily Caller

Much has been made of Obamacare’s “adult child” provision — the portion of the law that allows dependents to stay on their parents’ health insurance until they’re 26. Some have interpreted this to mean that all plans must cover individuals up to that age, but it actually just allows for the possibility if you’re fortunate enough to have a comprehensive plan. Ultimately, it’s a bone thrown to upper-middle class Millennials who can afford to sip hot cocoa in their onesies while mom and dad foot the bills. But not every “adult child” has that luxury.

What about families that lack the resources to fund their twenty-something’s health insurance? Or young adults who, like me, reject the condescending “adult child” concept outright? Advocates of Obamacare claim that the program’s subsidies should make up for a lack of dependency on our parents (ignoring, of course, market reforms that would actually make healthcare affordable). But like any taxpayer funded redistribution scheme, these subsidies create economic distortions and discourage the kind of competition that lowers overall costs.

Even worse, Obamacare has explicitly banned millions of plans people were happy with, offering in their place more costly, substandard insurance with narrower doctor networks. Sadly, one of the targets of this failed attempt at social engineering has been low-income college students. Across the nation, young people who purchased plans through their universities are now seeing sticker shock beyond their wildest dreams.

In some states, the situation is so bad that colleges have dropped the requirement that students be insured – putting a damper on Obamacare’s alleged goal of reducing the number of uninsured Americans. Take North Carolina as an example. Plans at the state’s public schools increased from $460 per semester to $709. At private schools, a hike of $668 per semester to $1,179 was seen. Unfortunately, this trend isn’t isolated to just North Carolina and a few of its campuses.

Health care policy analyst Avik Roy warned that because Obamacare bans the sort of affordable policies that low-income college students depend on, we could expect price hikes as high as 1,112 percent. This cost increase has profoundly damaged young people attempting to better their economic prospects. College students are already dealing with tuition costs that have risen by 6.5 percent each year for the past decade due in large part to federal loan subsidies. Despite this, the government continues to pile on while politicians feign confusion over the 15.8 percent youth unemployment rate.

As Roy noted at Forbes, these cost increases for students are happening virtually across the board. A couple of particularly egregious examples include the State University of New York in Plattsburgh, where for the entire school year, premiums were $440 per student. Now, they’re between $1,300 and $1,600. The University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, Washington is facing an even bigger disparity: a jump from $165 per year to somewhere between $1,500 and $2,000 annually, and will no longer be offering coverage through the college. Cornell College in Iowa, Lenoir-Rhyne University in North Carolina, and Bethany College in Kansas are also among many institutions of higher education that will no longer provide school-based coverage due to Obamacare.

If the above instances aren’t bad enough, it’s become clear that those most adversely impacted by Obamacare’s gutting of their university plans are students at historically black colleges and community schools. As Eugene Craig, the President of Young Americans for Liberty at Bowie State University in Maryland noted during an appearance on Fox News, the school’s plans that many of his peers were dependent on were suspended after Obamacare increased rates from $100 to $1,800 per year.

In New Jersey, the state’s entire network of community colleges has suffered as costs increased up to $1,700 per year. Students are struggling so much that the state’s legislature repealed a longstanding law that required all university students to have coverage. Perhaps the fact that Obamacare has banned affordable university health insurance won’t impact students who are able to depend on their families. But minorities, recent immigrants, unskilled workers, and low-income students are being pushed into uninsured status or forced to rely on substandard Medicaid plans they could’ve avoided had Obamacare not made the private insurance they used to have illegal.

Creating government dependency when an existing system was working for both the university and student body speaks to the trouble with Obamacare and other programs like it. Most Americans agree that some form of a safety net to eliminate the possibility of absolute poverty is a favorable concept. But when politicians ban cooperation between consenting parties in order to foster a reliance on government, they’re discouraging personal responsibility and social mobility: two hallmarks of the American Dream. Young Americans have had enough of being treated like children who need to be dependent on either our parents or the government, when all we really want is the same opportunities past generations have been afforded as a result of economic freedom. It’s time for government to step out of our way once and for all, and let us thrive.

The “Unanticipated” Consequences of Obamacare

Monday, February 10th, 2014

Originally posted at The Daily Caller

Stop the presses! Obamacare is going to be trillions more expensive than originally projected and will destroy millions of jobs? That’s what last week’s report from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) declares, coupled with some almost humorous commentary about how these results were “unanticipated.” As the CBO states in making projections through 2017, “Reduced incentives to work attributable to the Affordable Care Act – with most of the impact arising from new subsidies for health insurance purchased through the exchanges – will have a larger negative effect on (labor force) participation toward the end of that period.”

This was far from the only observation the CBO made about Obamacare – but it’s the most important one philosophically. It begs the question, what kind of country are we leaving to American youth? One that encourages hard work as a prerequisite for fulfilling boundless potential? Or a nation where we’re artificially “free” from obligation through regulations that discourage wealth creation and social mobility? Unfortunately, Obamacare is promoting the latter. Even worse, there are people defending the outcome.

The New York Times’ editorial board didn’t try to spin the truth of how severely Obamacare is impacting job growth, but rather chose to celebrate the alleged positivity of elevating government handouts over employment. In their own words, “The Congressional Budget Office estimated on Tuesday that the Affordable Care Act will reduce the number of full-time workers by 2.5 million over the next decade. That is mostly a good thing, a liberating result of the law.”

Apparently, liberation doesn’t mean freedom from a government that limits one’s ability to enhance their well-being. Instead, “liberation” is a luxury afforded to some, while others subsidize the programs they depend on. This is not an outlook steeped in long-term sustainability. It’s actually a disturbing indication of the fact that there are Americans willing to trade the incentives that encourage social mobility for government-induced mediocrity that has the net effect of dragging the entire economy down.

Physician and scholar Scott Gottlieb put it well when he said, “The old employer sponsored system forced people to stay in jobs they didn’t like because they needed the health insurance coverage. The new Obamacare system will force people to stay out of jobs they do want because they need to maximize their subsidies. And this is social progress?” A crucial inquiry indeed.

Most advocates of a free-market health care system recognize the problems with insurance being tied to employment and care being tied to insurance. Portable, affordable plans tailored to meet the needs of consumers are what’s desperately required, but they have been banned by Obamacare. Moreover, health insurance should specifically be geared toward coverage for catastrophic events – not utilized to pay for basic care.

This is the route young people who have chosen to opt out of Obamacare are taking. Whether they sign up for a short-term plan or purchase any one of the many of private options still available, it’s wholly possible to reject Obamacare and act responsibly. Ultimately, the better understanding consumers have of actual health care costs, the morecompetition will bring prices down. These concepts are simple – but they seem to evade politicians who refuse to acknowledge the value of policies that shift power out of their orbit and back toward the people.

Indicative of that problem, Obamacare has exasperated what was wrong with the health care market prior to its enactment. Instead of creating more choice, it has restricted doctor options. Instead of making health care more affordable, it has disproportionately burdened the middle class. Instead of increasing options, it has banned millions of plans. Instead of “freeing” young people, it has pushed several trillion dollars more in government debt on our shoulders. Instead of reining in corporate excess, it has guaranteed insurance companies bailouts.

Nothing about Obamacare represents a “step in the right direction,” unless one believes the government is a self-sustaining entity upon which everyone can depend without contributing. That outlook has collapsed many an economy and been the catalyst for vast social unrest. We’ve already seen problems of this nature in countries like Spain andGreece recently.

The United States must avoid going down the same path and ultimately handing young Americans a country where instead of pursuing our dreams, we’re forced to pay for the mistakes of those who thought mortgaging our futures for their personal gain was acceptable. In these trying times, it would be wise to heed the words of French philosopher Frédéric Bastiat:  ”Everyone wants to live at the expense of the state. They forget that the state lives at the expense of everyone.”