The PJ Tatler

New Yorker Writer Stops Worrying and Learns to Love Obamacare

If Margaret Talbot is any indication, merely lying about his signature healthcare law won’t really cost Barack Obama the adoration of his most ardent fans. Talbot recently learned that, thanks to Obamacare, her family’s insurance premiums are going way up.

We were among those Americans who liked our policy: we had to choose doctors from within a network, but there were plenty to choose from, including the pediatrician we’d gone to since our kids, now teen-agers, were born. We had no deductible and a reasonable cap on out-of-pocket expenses: five thousand dollars a year. We were less happy when, in early October, our insurer, CareFirst Blue Cross, raised our monthly premium by three hundred dollars with no explanation. (The only health expenses we’d incurred in the previous year were for the annual checkups that the schools required for the kids.) This was a big increase for us, especially since our writing income tends to fluctuate from month to month and year to year. Then, like many of the twelve million or so Americans who buy their own insurance, we received a letter from CareFirst in late October saying that our policy would be cancelled, because it didn’t conform to Affordable Care Act requirements. I did what I usually do in these circumstances: I procrastinated.

So after procrastinating, she got on the phone and found out that Barack Obama was behind jacking up her health premiums, by a lot, despite his repeated promises that his law would not take away anyone’s healthcare if they liked what they had. $300 per month by 12 months is easy math — $3,600 per year.

She runs the numbers, has bad dreams, and then…well, Talbot remembers her “values.”

To be clear: I’m not happy to be paying more in the short term, and it may be a struggle at times. I wish other self-employed people didn’t have to shoulder so much of the burden. I wish we had a single-payer system, but that seems wildly unrealistic. And the new health-care law exists for the common good, not just the individual consumer. Vaccination provides more effective protection—so-called herd immunity—when more of us are vaccinated. Universal health insurance works in something like the same way: we are better off as a society—more compassionate, but also healthier—when we can all get the care we need.

So yes, I’ll subsidize someone else’s prenatal coverage, in a more effective way than I’ve been doing by default under the current system, in which too many pregnant women show up in emergency rooms without having had such care, creating problems for themselves and their babies, and all sorts of costs for taxpayers. And I’ll remember to be relieved that my own access to health care is guaranteed. But they had better work out the problems with the A.C.A.; if they don’t, and it doesn’t fulfill its promise of insuring the uninsured, I’m really going to feel like a chump.

Sorry, but you’re a chump. You’ve been subsidizing the health care for those who overuse emergency rooms all along, through your local, state and federal taxes. Under Obamacare, you get the pleasure of subsidizing it twice, and you won’t see those other taxes go down. They will go up. And you get to publicly express that your “values” don’t include demanding that our political leaders tell the truth about their policies.

You’re also a chump for thinking that the problems with Obamacare are over or are just limited to how it forces you to buy products you don’t need at a higher price than you can afford. The problems are only beginning. The doc shock is coming early next year, and the employer mandate will kick millions off their current healthcare plans right after the next mid-term. You’re a chump for not demanding that if Obama thinks his law is so grand, then he should sign up for him and he should follow it rather than violating it by fiat. That pattern of behavior is going to foster a whole new set of issues, when Obama shows future presidents just how much law-breaking they can get away with, and how Congress is powerless to stop them.