Don’t Tell Atlas

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Show of hands, people.
Who paid for and maintained their family’s own health insurance since the family was established by marriage, or childbirth? (my wife and I raise our hands… we will call this Group A.)
Who wanted to get health insurance, but was unable to because of limited income or a pre-existing medical condition? (Group B.)
Who didn’t give a rat’s ass about health insurance because they just show up at the ER when the need arises, and they have no intention of ever paying for any kind of health insurance or paying a substantial medical bill, for that matter? (Group C.)
Who is just dirt poor and can’t pay anything for healthcare, and never has any prospects of paying for anything for healthcare? (Group D.)
I have been a member of Group A since I was 20 years old. That was when my parents basically commanded me to take an hourly, low-wage job at MCG, when it was clear I would not be pursuing a college degree full-time. There were not positions much lower on the old totem pole than a transportation aide (aka “nursing assistant”) back in those days, but the benefits were solid. Sadly, those types of benefits are very rare to come by in 2013, particularly in entry level jobs, which, because of Obamacare, have in many cases been carved up into part-time shifts, spread among multiple employees. All to dodge the federal requirements to provide health insurance for full-time workers.
There is no chance that Group D is going to contribute, in any meaningful sense, to the cost of this new program, Group B is going to be a liability from day one, with huge net losses, simply because they are walking in the door with either expensive bills every single month or subsidized premiums that have to be covered by the higher premiums now required of Group A.
While I would love the ability to put Group C into indentured servitude to cover medical bills they inevitably run up because of insurance they inevitably don’t have, the truth is (thank God) there are really not enough of those people to make much of a positive difference if we were able to make them behave as grownups and do the right thing.
So Group A is really taking it in the shorts all the way around. Just like those same people have always seemed to get the sharp end of the stick when it comes to taxation and proportional responsibility in all levels of life.
Under the current system, as imperfect as it is, people who cannot cover their medical bills are served as paupers under either the Medicaid system, vested participants in Medicare (at qualifying age) or local indigent care plans, usually funded by state and local authorities. Of course healthcare providers also write off huge amounts of charity work, which is again made possible by those folks who are paying actually their bills.
Under Obamacare, the government hopes to shift the burden to premium payers, so Group A gets it in the britches again, while still shouldering the largest tax burden of any of the other groups. If you think there will be some substantial personal tax savings for Group A under this strange and mathematically unsound plan, I have some oceanfront property in McBean I would like to sell you.
Want a little insult added to the injury? The administration that came up with this monstrosity of a plan was not the administration that was supported in these parts by the majority of those in Group A. Our latest presidential election was believed by many to be a referendum on the very concept of this national healthcare experiment, though, sadly, much of what we know now was not known then in terms of cost or fallout.
In the Augusta metro area, one of the neighborhoods home to one of the largest blocks of chronically low-wage-earning, poverty level residents is East Boundary. Most residents there are on some type of medical welfare system, and virtually every minor child qualifies for the free school lunch program. In 2012 those folks voted 2,718 strong at the Dyess Park and East View Community Center precincts, respectively numbered 103 and 104, with 96 percent of them lining up behind President Barack Obama.
96 percent.
In Augusta’s wealthiest neighborhoods, the GOP does dominate, but never at a clip in excess of 70 percent per precinct, and usually at much lower levels.
In other words, in our neck of the woods, folks with substantial incomes seem to have honest disagreement about which direction the country should be heading on healthcare. Those who are paying the freight reject Obamacare as it exists, and those who are already riding the government relief system are practically lock step in support of the new plan.
And yes, folks, man for man, the votes of the poorest, persistently unemployed, non-taxpayers are every bit equal to the votes of the people busting their butts to stay above water in their middle class digs, paying their property taxes and knocking out those ever increasing health insurance premiums.
Atlas has not shrugged yet, he is too busy trying to feed his family and pay his mortgage. But when he finds out he will soon be paying even more for health insurance, receiving less choice and quality than he has known all his life, he is gonna shrug, cuss, throw a few plates and slam the door on his way off to a better place.
At least you better hope he leaves. Revolutions have been waged over far, far less.

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