Obamacare will be easily broken
Other than Obama’s sound bite, “If you like your insurance, you will keep it,” the most memorable quote from the Affordable Care Act — more commonly known as Obamacare — debate is, “insurance companies won’t be able to deny you coverage or jack up your rate because of a pre-existing condition.” This caveat will be Obamacare’s undoing.
Because of this promise, one that Obamacare will actually keep, there are only four factors that can change the price that one pays for insurance in the individual market: your age, the state that you live in, whether or not you smoke cigarettes, and how comprehensive you want your coverage to be.
Because of this caveat, if you don’t have health insurance and you get cancer, you can sign up for health insurance. Not only will insurance companies have to take you, they’ll have to charge you the same rate as if you didn’t have cancer, even though you are definitely going to cost a lot more as a patient.
Since the Supreme Court brilliantly, and subtly, limited the power of the government, it’s still legal for me to not purchase health insurance. If I opt to remain uninsured, which I will, I pay a fine of $695 every year. This is much less than I will pay for health care coverage in a year if I don’t get any subsidies, which I aspire to not be eligible for. If I get cancer, I’ll simply sign up for health insurance.
To their credit, the law’s designers aren’t stupid, and they looked ahead and foresaw people like me. To safeguard against these people, Obamacare architects created what is called an open enrollment period, which lasts until March 31, 2014. If you want insurance for 2014, you need to sign up by then. That means that people looking to game the system, like me, are out of luck if we get hit by a bus on April 1. We have to wait until Jan. 1, 2015 until our coverage starts, leaving us with nine long months of out-of-pocket expenses that will bankrupt us.
Not so fast, Obamacare. Another provision of the law says that I can stay on my parents’ insurance until I’m 26, provided my family gets a new insurance policy after Obamacare caused us to lose our plan. If I start working right after school, that leaves me with four years of being happily insured without a cent of out-of-pocket costs to me while I’m earning income.
Unfortunately for Obamacare, my grace period of earnings and savings, combined with guaranteed issue of insurance at a reasonable rate, destroys my incentive to buy insurance.
Even though it’s possible that I might be struck with some catastrophic and costly illness immediately after enrollment ends, I’m confident enough that this won’t happen, or if it does, that I’ll be able to take on the costs personally until insurance kicks in. Unfortunately for the act’s supporters, I think I will win against Obamacare.
Even worse for its supporters, Obamacare needs me — far more than I need it. Obamacare is designed to get people like me to pay for insurance that they don’t need and won’t use, so that they will pay more into the system than they cost the system. This surplus will then be used to pay for the cost of others who pay less than what they get out of the system.
Under Obamacare, I would be required to purchase the benefits of maternity care, pre-natal care, prescription drug benefits, and substance abuse care.
I anticipate needing none of these. Obamacare makes me buy these services that I’m unlikely to need so that I will pay more into the system and subsidize old people and poor people who are effectively winning under this system.
If people like me don’t buy into this gross redistribution scheme, however, Obamacare will be overrun with sick people who pay less than the benefits they receive and will depend on people like me to cover their costs. If we don’t buy into this system — which I certainly won’t, because it’s not in my interest — then Obamacare will fail and insurers will go out of business because they will cover more sick people than they can afford to cover.
I will break Obamacare. I won’t do this because I’m cruel or cynical. That’s just what’s honestly in my best interest.