Where do I start? I should probably start by saying this up front: I AM NOT OPPOSED TO YOU BEING ABLE TO AFFORD HEALTH INSURANCE. I'm not. In fact, I'm happy for the people that this turns out to be the answer to their health insurance prayers. I want my friends to have what they need. Heck, I want the homeless guy on the corner to have what he needs. I'm not a hateful, harsh person here.
You know what else I want? A CHOICE. I want some stinking INTEGRITY in this whole mess. I want them to call a spade a spade or in this case to call a penalty a penalty. For heaven's sake just because you called it a tax doesn't make it one. Get real and don't treat the American people like imbeciles. It's a penalty, folks. It's a punitive act against people who opt out of health care coverage. Period. End of discussion.
Now, I'll grant you, I don't know why anyone would opt out of health insurance if they can afford it. Obviously this new law is supposed to make that happen. Make it affordable, that is. I am still not buying that it will be. (Pun not intended.) Currently, the feds have set the poverty level for a family of 4 at $23,050 annually. 138% of that is $31,809. Obviously a lot more people will qualify for Medicaid when that happens...unless your state decides it doesn't want to play ball. They can decide that by the way. If they feel the amount of money the federal government is offering in subsidies isn't enough to off set the increased costs due to the increased numbers of people served, they can say "No thanks" and promptly end your opportunity to apply. So the increased eligibility will vary from state to state. In a state like Michigan, I'm thinking that's not completely unlikely. We have a TON of people that will probably fall within the new guidelines. Think about that for a minute. The state would have to make up the difference in what the feds don't subsidize and that means, yep, higher taxes in a state where we already struggle to keep our noses above water. That can also deter new businesses and new residents from coming to our state. You may think I'm exaggerating, but it's a real possibility. Not to mention that if you make $31,810 you're outta luck. So it's really not a benefit to those families anyway. Again, I'm not saying these folks shouldn't have insurance, I'm saying this set up sucks.
You can go to http://www.heathcare.gov/ and look up quotes for insurance rates. If you're single, around 30 years old, have no preexisting conditions and don't mind big deductibles and high out of pocket limits you can get a policy for around $90.00/mo. Keep in mind, even with the new guidelines, at $15,415 annually you no longer qualify for Medicaid. So if you can afford to do it, pay the $1080.00 per year for your newly mandatory insurance. Remember, that's $15,415 GROSS. So your net will be less, and unless you're living in your mom's basement your rent will be at a minimum $400.00 month if you can find a place that cheap that you aren't afraid to live in. So that's $4800 a year. So let's just say you don't pay any taxes at all, with just your rent and mandatory health care coverage you're left with a whopping $9535 for anything else you need this year. That's about $795 a month. Yeah, I'm thinking that's not going to work. So, you pay the penalty instead because 1% of your gross income is way less than that insurance policy. So you're only out $154.15 but you still don't have health insurance. (And it's a TAX not a PENALTY but somehow you're probably feeling screwed right about now.) Hope you weren't sick at all because even though you paid out of pocket for medical services this year, you still get fined - uhhh, I mean taxed.
Seriously now, was anybody really believing that this is an actual TAX? I didn't know we could be taxed on what we DON'T HAVE and DIDN'T BUY! Next I'll be getting taxed on that house I don't own, the car I don't drive, the food I didn't eat... Please. Is anybody really thinking there is any integrity at all in this game of semantics?? If I call a squirrel a cow, does it become one?
Let's not even get started on the fact that if you already have insurance through your employer, and that insurance policy was initiated by the company prior to March of 2010, that policy is grandfathered in and doesn't even have to adjust to the parts of the law that may actually BENEFIT people currently being insured. See here: http://www.healthcare.gov/law/features/rights/grandfathered-plans/index.html And, no, it doesn't matter that you started paying for the plan after that date, as long as the comany you work for initiated the plan prior to that date. So, all my U of M buddies and I can opt to keep our grandfathered in policy with the U, or pay out of pocket for Obamacare. Let me tell you I have part time status with a higher premium rate than my full time coworkers and in searching the Healthcare website I can't even come close to the coverage I get now for the money I pay now with the plans offered. The ones I can afford have deductibles, I currently do not. The ones with no deductibles, I can't afford. If I could afford a $12,000 deductible I wouldn't need health insurance.
So let me say again: I do not begrudge a single person in this country the opportunity to purchase affordable health care coverage. I really hope this works out for you if you don't have coverage right now. Sincerely, I do. I just don't see how it will. What's worse is that it's the law now. You are out of options. Buy the insurance or pay the "tax" (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) for the thing you don't own.