Democrats may want to consider voting to repeal health reform if they want to keep the youth vote.
Young people tend to lean left until they start paying taxes. Starting in 2014, Democrats face a harsher version of this tendency: Young people vote Democratic until they have to pay taxes and purchase health insurance.
The Obamacare individual mandate essentially targets my age group – 18- to 29-year-olds – to flood health insurance pools with low-risk premiums to bring costs down for everyone else. The young and healthy must subsidize the old and sick by buying plans they may not need.
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Young professionals with entry-level salaries, many of whom are not yet covered by their employers, will be forced to buy costly insurance or face a fee totaling up to 2.5 percent of their income. As someone entering the job market, I will soon be hit by this added cost right when I’m trying to establish a financial base. I won’t qualify for federal assistance, and rather than making insurance more affordable, the health care law requires young people like me to incur even more costly premiums.
The price controls in the health-care law require insurance companies to maintain a stability level among prices between age groups. Therefore, the catastrophic coverage I would seek would cost more than it would today. Plus, the minimum level of coverage required by law will be more comprehensive and more expensive, making it even less likely to be purchased by employers.
It may be worth it just to pay the fine.
Obama is wrong
President Obama counters that this law is good for young people for two reasons: They can now piggyback off their parents’ plan until age 26, and preventative care will cost them less in the long run.
In the president’s presumed attempt to buy the youth vote for another four years, his first argument assumes two things: that parents will add their children, and that these parents are wealthy enough to afford insurance.
It’s not the government’s place to be parents to the parents. With nearly 10 percent of the workforce unemployed, many parents cannot afford this added burden. But even if this were not the case, and everyone had wealthy parents, this paternalistic approach to governance puts families in an awkward position.
The president’s second argument falls flat because insurance doesn’t require people to get preventive care. It may be subsidized, but individuals will still have to pay for check-ups.
Instead of expecting young adults to beg for help from our former guardians, here’s a better solution: Make catastrophic insurance premiums cheaper. Instead of demanding that we buy a product, how about just making the product more affordable?
If I can find a job this June after graduation, I would like to purchase catastrophic insurance – but even this minimal coverage isn’t cheap now. Mandating the purchase of health insurance treats the effect (young people not buying policies) and neglects the cause (high costs).
Alternative solutions to healthcare
When House Republicans take up the health insurance law repeal today, they ought to try to get rid of the individual mandate, but more important, they must bring their own solutions to tackle high health care prices.
One obvious answer is to allow individuals to purchase insurance across state lines; more competition among insurance companies would bring down costs. Another one would be getting rid of the tax incentive for employers to cover their employees; more individual purchasers in the market would also increase competition.
A deeper and more challenging reform would target the price controls already manipulating the system in Medicare and Medicaid. Right now, these programs only pay about 83 cents on the dollar of what the private market brings. Considering these programs are estimated to make up about 50 percent of the total health care market, doctors and pharmaceutical companies compensate for these losses by charging their private customers more.
Mr. Obama’s health reform makes Medicaid even bigger, though, adding more price controls and further manipulating the market. We should repeal this change before it happens and address the current systematic flaws with a comprehensive solution. Alice Rivlin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office, and Rep. Paul Ryan (R) of Wisconsin have a proposal that removes these price controls, without punishing seniors, by converting to a voucher-based system.
The president and Democrat-controlled Senate probably will not accept these solutions because it seems like political suicide to undo the work they just completed. But it may be equally suicidal to punish the young people who make up a significant part of their voting base. Democrats ought to consider repealing and replacing Obamacare, or face the backlash of an American youth sobered up to an even harsher fiscal reality.
Ron Meyer is a senior at Principia College. He hosts the “We the People” Internet radio show and is a contributor to The Daily Caller. He has appeared on Fox News, and his writing has been featured in The Christian Science Monitor, Yahoo! News, Human Events, the Santa Barbara News-Press, and AOL News.