We know the old saying: be careful of what one asks for, because you might actually get it. Businessweek reports that unions were “among the biggest helpers to President Obama in getting the Affordable Care Act passed in 2010.” When they finally got what they dreamed of, it turned out they couldn’t afford it. So the unions are now asking for “tax subsidies for their members” so they can. You see, many union members “work for small employers”:
And small employers — those with fewer than 50 workers — aren’t subject to the Obamacare mandate requiring employers to either provide health coverage or pay a $2,000 penalty. The fear is that employers could decide it’s cheaper to stop offering coverage and tell workers to shop for health plans on the public marketplaces instead. The unions fear this could potentially cost their workers more money.
Unions also want to be exempted from reinsurance fees:
Labor leaders say they’re also upset about having to pay a so-called reinsurance fee the government is levying for the first three years that the public marketplaces are open. … [Unions want the same] concessions offered to big business (delaying the employer mandate until 2015) and to religious employers (allowing them to exempt contraceptive coverage from their plans). The unions are arguing that it’s now their turn for a break.
The social-engineering aspects of Obamacare mean there are different strokes for different folks — people are not equal before its mighty website. What they actually pay depends on how the bureaucracy esteems them in the scales of their social-engineering metric. If they are the wrong sort of person, the “affordable health care” will be very expensive. To get cheap health insurance, they have to portray themselves as the correct sort of person.
The San Francisco Chronicle offers this advice to people who find they are of the wrong kind:
Take, for example, Jacqueline Proctor of San Francisco. She and her husband are in their early 60s. They have been paying $7,200 a year for a bare-bones Kaiser Permanente health plan with a $5,000 per person annual deductible. “Kaiser told us the plan does not comply with Obamacare and the substitute will cost more than twice as much,” about $15,000 per year, she says.
This new plan, Kaiser’s cheapest offering for 2014, would consume about 25 percent of their after-tax income. The new plan still has a $5,000 deductible but provides coverage for things her current policy does not, such as maternity care, healthy child visits and coverage for dependents up to age 26. Proctor has no use for such coverage, since her son is 30.
Premiums are also going up for many people next year because insurers can no longer deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions or impose lifetime coverage caps.
The Chronicle advises people like the Proctors to work less, thereby converting themselves to the right kind of person. The Chronicle explains how it works:
To get a subsidy, the couple’s modified adjusted gross income for 2014 income would need to fall below $62,040, which is 400 percent of poverty for a family of two. (For a single person, the cutoff is $45,960. For other size households, see www.tinyurl.com/pwugnus.)
Proctor estimates that her 2014 household income will be $64,000, about $2,000 over the limit. If she and her husband could reduce their income to $62,000, they could get a tax subsidy of $1,207 per month to offset the purchase of health care on Covered California.
That would reduce the price of a Kaiser Permanente bronze-level plan, similar to the replacement policy she was quoted, to $94 per month from $1,302 per month. Instead of paying more than $15,000 per year, the couple would pay about $1,100.
They could reduce their premium to near zero by applying their subsidy to a bronze-level plan offered by the Chinese Community Health plan that costs only $1,057 per month.
In other words, the only way for the Proctor family to avoid the punitive costs imposed by affordable health care is to get poorer. The unions could do this, too — but they don’t like to get poorer.
Fortunately the unions’ political clout allows them to pursue a different strategy. They can stay rich and at the same time derive the benefits of being treated like poor people; that is, receive subsidies.
These are the “business rules” of the system. It is the difficulty of programming these convoluted rules into the Obamacare website code that has largely held it up for so long. It takes some doing to figure in all the breaks. After the unions get what they want, the programmers are going to have to shoehorn it into the code. But once they get the inequities straight, they can compile it into imperishable binary.
And the wrongness and rightness of persons will thereafter be enshrined. This is called fairness and equality.
In George Orwell’s classic Animal Farm, the livestock set out to create a world of equality based on seven commandments. But like Obamacare, the seven commandments had to be reduced to operating actualities in order to function. Some of the old animals, perhaps the equivalent of the Proctors, were anxious to know if the world of the seven commandments had already been built. Upon inquiring they found that in practice all the rules came down to a single one:
Benjamin felt a nose nuzzling at his shoulder. He looked round. It was Clover. Her old eyes looked dimmer than ever. Without saying anything, she tugged gently at his mane and led him round to the end of the big barn, where the Seven Commandments were written. For a minute or two they stood gazing at the tatted wall with its white lettering.
“My sight is failing,” she said finally. “Even when I was young I could not have read what was written there. But it appears to me that that wall looks different. Are the Seven Commandments the same as they used to be, Benjamin?”
For once Benjamin consented to break his rule, and he read out to her what was written on the wall. There was nothing there now except a single Commandment. It ran:
ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS
And how could it be different with Obamacare? Remember this simple maxim: “All healthcare is affordable, but some healthcare is more affordable than others.”
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