Healthcare.gov has my email address, because I once searched for plan information on the site, and now the artificial intelligence – or just perhaps an algorithm – has decided to pester me to sign up or pay a penalty. Having fooled the system (because I can’t get Obamacare since I passed my 65th birthday), I checked some prices to see the cost of plans for my neighbors, assuming a family of two parents and two teenage children.
It’s not a pretty picture. Without premium subsidies, all of the so-called Obamacare Bronze plans cost about $900 a month, or $10,800 a year. All of them have a deductible of about $12,000, which adds up to a total cost of $22,800 – before you receive one penny of health insurance. It’s all on you – just put pennies in the jar each January and set aside 2,280,000 as your personal Copper plan. Actually, someone should call the coppers for allowing such a ripoff junk health plan.
The missing ingredient in this analysis is that the government (middle class taxpayers) provides a subsidy to our average $50k-a-year household of four, amounting to $800 or so per month. That money goes directly to the insurance company. You pay the difference in premiums and you also pay all that $12,000 deductible. It seems insanely expensive – between contributions from taxpayers and subscribers – and some might say a windfall for insurance companies, a deal that was negotiated by Chicago’s current mayor under assault, who is also a former investment banker.
The Democrats may have bowed to the healthcare industry, prostrated their principles, humiliated party members, destroyed the President’s legacy and may even made Valerie Jarrett unhappy, but things might get even far worse.
Enter the GOP and its brainiacs at the Heritage Foundation. They have a plan that makes Obamacare look like heaven with 72 virgins (persons, of course) and unlimited six packs of beer. Right away you know there’s trouble in DC city when the authors say “the Heritage plan uses a consumer-centered, market-based approach to reduce health care costs and give patients and their families a greater say in health care spending and decisions that affect their lives.”
This plan will not just replace Obamacare. It will most likely end health insurance from your employer and replace it with a tax credit only suitable to cover health needs of a pregnant mouse.
Their first step is to eliminate that income tax deduction you receive on the premiums you currently pay for health insurance at work. Those premiums now reduce your income tax adjusted income, dollar for dollar. With the GOP plan, you will pay income tax on the premiums, possibly hiking your tax bracket, but certainly adding taxes on earnings of some $3,000 to $11,000 a year. At just the 15% bracket that will cost you as much as $1,650 more each year.
The Heritage boys know that by providing everyone money to (partially) pay for private premiums, the owner class will duck out of providing company healthcare. Some foundation friends have argued that because this will save capitalists mucho money, they will use these extra profits to increase worker pay. And pigs can fly, they might have added.
“Through tax reform and other measures, the Heritage plan ensures that everyone, regardless of job situation, is eligible for a tax credit or other help in purchasing health insurance. This means that people can buy, own, and keep the health care plans of their choice,” according to Heritage.
I don’t want to “buy” and certainly don’t care if I “own and keep” a health care plan. How about healthcare “rental”, or just free doctors, hospitals and drugs, paid by actually taxing corporations and everyone earning more than $5 million a year? That’s the kind of solution that would get Heritage sycophants fired, and make Pete Peterson turn over in his grave – oops, the latter in a biological sense is somewhat premature.
Most workers in America will be entitled to buy GOP/Obamacare when company insurance ends. With no premium help that will cost about $23,000 a year. But not to worry, the GOP will give you a tax credit. Heritage explains:
In conjunction with the plan’s tax reforms, the current individual tax exclusion for employer-sponsored health insurance and other tax mechanisms are replaced with a nonrefundable fixed tax credit for households to purchase health coverage. The credit is phased out as income rises and eliminated for upper-income households. The switch from the exclusion to the credit system is revenue-neutral to the federal government. This change is needed because under today’s system, the tax code provides unlimited tax breaks only to those workers who receive coverage through their employers. Workers cannot use this tax break if no plan is offered through their employers or if they simply prefer a plan other than their employer’s.
…for upper-income households, the new credit is typically less and is reduced as income rises. The phaseout begins at $50,000 for an individual and $100,000 for a family. The credit is fully phased out at $90,000 for an individual and $170,000 for a family. The credit is advanceable, assignable, and available on a prorated basis. This means that the credit is available when premiums are due, enabling families to claim the credit for premiums already paid before the end of the tax year. An assignable credit allows a family to assign their tax credit to a health plan in return for a dollar-for-dollar lower premium, eliminating the need to claim it on their own tax forms.
Amazing that so-called capitalists reduce credits when you make more money, and eliminate them for “high income” $90k workers.
By now, you are asking this blogger “stop beating around…what are the dollar amounts for “premium support.”
Get some tissues and prepare to cry. The family above – two parents, four teens – will be allotted $3,500 – no more! That will require them to pay $19,300 of their own money every year before health insurance pays a dime. If the family wants something better than the “Bronze” type plan, they can pay even more. If you are single, even earning less than $15k a year, your “premium support” will not exceed $2,000.
Just as I became used to complaining about Obama’s giveaway to the insurance industry, this Heritage plan comes along.
Christie, Kasich, Rubio, Bush and Cruz are all chess pieces on the Heritage game board. Huckabee and Santorum deviate from the brain trust and say they want to protect so-called entitlements.
That leaves D. Trump, who wants to replace Obamacare, but hasn’t explained the replacement. Like Hillary, he regards us as mushrooms, better left in the dark. Both should be brave enough to at least tell us whether we will have the very bad Obama healthcare plan or something better or worse.
And then there’s Bernie – healthcare for all. Even the champion of Medicare, Richard Nixon, would be proud