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November 05, 2013 10:45 AM The Missing Piece in Obamacare

By Ed Kilgore

Progressive scribblers and gabbers have tried to mention this metronomically, but to little avail: the hysteria surrounding “rate shock” for individual insurance premiums purchased via the Obamacare exchanges rarely takes more than token account of the subsidies—a.k.a. “premium tax credits”—that will be available for low-to-moderate income folks. Now there’s a new Kaiser Family Foundation study out that estimates the number of those who receive subsidies:

We estimate that about 17 million people who are now uninsured or who buy insurance on their own (“nongroup purchasers”) will be eligible for premium tax credits in 2014…. We also estimate that about 29 million people nationally could look to new Marketplaces as a place to purchase coverage.

So well over half of those who could purchase insurances on the exchanges will receive countervailing subsidies, many of them wiping out the cost of premiums altogether.

Although this was part of the basic design of the Affordable Care Act, you don’t hear much about it from Obamacare critics, particularly when it comes to the “young invincibles” the GOP thinks can be detached from Democratic voting habits once they’re forced to deplete their meagre resources to pay for insurance they don’t want or need.

I know this is an extreme (to the point of self-parody) example of conservative rhetoric, but since it popped up today at Townhall, here’s the Breitbartian writer Kurt Schlichter addressing young folk under the unsubtle title: “Maybe Pain Will Teach You Millennials Not To Vote For Your Own Serfdom”:

You Millenials voted for Obama by a margin of 28 percent, which will make it a lot easier for me to accept the benefits you will be paying for. We warned you that liberalism was a scam designed to take the fruits of your labor and transfer it to us, the older, established generation. Oh, and also to the couch-dwelling, Democrat-voting losers who live off of food stamps and order junk from QVC with their Obamaphones.
You didn’t listen to us. Maybe you’ll listen to pain.
I have been told that being hard on you Millennials will turn you against conservatism, that I should offer you a positive, hopeful message that avoids the touchy problem of your manifest stupidity.
No. There’s no sugar-coating it - your votes for Democrats have ensured that you are the first generation in American history that will fail to exceed what their parents attained. Embracing liberalism was a stupid thing to do, done for the stupidest of reasons, and I will now let you subsidize my affluent lifestyle without a shred of guilt.
I’m a 48 year old trial lawyer living on the coast in California - I should have “Hope and Change” tattooed on my glutes. I’d have an excuse to be lib-curious, but you Millennials? Why do you support an ideology that pillages you to pay-off Democrat constituencies? Your time in the indoctrination factories of academia trained you in a form of “critical thinking” that is neither. Somehow, you came to embrace the bizarre notion that conservatives are psychotic Jesus freaks who want to Footloosisze America into a land of mandatory Sunday school and no dancing.
But liberals, in contrast, are nice. Obama is cool. You chose petty fascism with a smile. Not a lot of thought went into it. Facts, evidence - these were mere distractions from the feelings-based validation that came from rejecting us wicked conservatives.
What did you get? The chance to be forced to buy health insurance you don’t want at inflated rates so my rates can be lower. You get to pay more out of your monthly barista take - liberalism ensured that the tanked job market foreclosed a real career - so that I get to pay less out of my lawyer checks. Thanks, suckers.

The income cut-off for eligibility for Obamacare subsidies is about $45,000 for individuals and $95,000 for a family of four. I don’t think any millennial’s “barista take” is going to exceed that level, and for that matter, it’s unclear to me why Schlichter thinks he’s going to be subsidized, unless he has a pre-existing medical condition (which would presumably make him one of those “losers”) that kept him from getting insurance at all except via those crappy state-run high-risk pools conservatives love so much.

But this argument isn’t about facts; it’s about a sustained campaign to get millennials to refuse to participate in Obamacare so as to screw up the risk pools and make them fail for everybody. And those who buy this propaganda—or start voting Republican out of a misplaced selfishness—are the real “suckers.”

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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