Health Care Plan Charges ‘Poor’ More Money

I have intentionally kept quite about the new Health Care Bill that is trying to work its way through our governmental system because I don’t want to talk on something that I don’t have, really, any hard facts or information about. However, I saw this article in the Wall Street Journal this morning, and I am totally disgusted – Financially poor married couples will pay more under the new health care bill than any unmarried couples living together:

“The built-in “marriage penalty” in both House and Senate healthcare bills has received scant attention. But for scores of low-income and middle-income couples, it could mean a hike of $2,000 or more in annual insurance premiums the moment they say “I do.”

And it’s not the folks with disposable income that this portion of the Bill affects, it’s the poor:

“For an unmarried couple with income of $25,000 each, combined premiums would be capped at $3,076 per year, under the House bill. If the couple gets married, with a combined income of $50,000, their annual premium cap jumps to $5,160 — a “penalty” of $2,084. Those figures were included in a memo prepared by House Republican staff.”

And how about this for two quotes from people familiar with the legislation:

“This seems to not only penalize the married, but also those who would have the most to gain from marriage — the poor” … Democratic staff who helped to write the bill confirmed the existence of the penalty, but said it cannot be remedied without creating other inequities.”

“Cannot be remedied” … Are you kidding me? I thought the whole point of this health care plan was to be able to provide health care access to all of those who couldn’t afford it?

I guess “access” is once again a relative term full of monetary stipulations. And I also guess that the government who says they care so much about the poor, the nuclear family, the instituion of marriage (secular perspective) and the divorce rate actually don’t. What a surprise.

Much love.

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  • David

    That’s just messed up, any way you look at it.

  • From a comment on the WSJ site:

    > looked into this claim when I saw it circulating at far Right sites last week. It is NOT true.

    >• The subsidies will not even be determined until after the exchange and insurance requirements are set up.

    >• Entire tax situations in different scenarios would have to be examined to compare how different single and married recipients of subsidies fare. Families with child care and other deductions would likely come out better than single people.

    >The claim that health care insurance reform is an attack on marriage originated with a far Right crackpot and perennial candidate in Minnesota. He claims that the legislation is a nefarious plot to dissuade people from marrying.

    And further, it assumes a couple would be buying insurance as individuals and not through some sort of family plan. More FUD from the far right is what this appears to be…

    THis is posted on Scott Mcknight’s blog…to add to it a poster there also commented,

    >Well, you have a choice of the way it is today, where family coverage costs about $12,000+ a year, or this plan, where a family making $50,000 would have a capped premium of $5160.

    >I’ll take that “marriage penalty” any day.

    There is a lot that this WSJ article ignores and glosses over (which isn’t surprising given their general bias). I’d definitely be careful though taking it as hard and fast fact when it plays looses with the terms and develop scenarios that aren’t used.

  • Brandon – For me, this isn’t a ‘far right/left’ issue. I didn’t even hear about until I saw the WSJ article today … so the far right must not have spread it as wide as they thought because I’m usually up to date with what’s going on. Don’t be naive enough to think that such scenarios won’t ever play out. In fact, I’m sure it will happen more often than anyone might think. As few as it may be, however, these penalties will be a huge deal for those who it qualifies against. As far as I understand, the premise to this health care plan is affordability and accessability. If this legislation is to give ‘poor’ more equality, than this stipulation is going against that premise. You, Brandon, might “take that marriage penalty any day” but (from looking at your profile) you’re white, and male, and have had access to so much more than many other minorities do. Your trajectory, potential earning and lot in life, just by being white and male, is dramatically different than others. And for your ‘tax’ suggestions; those assumptions are based on the ‘poor’ having access to quality tax people to give them the max amount of deductions possible. Not so likely of a story. So what counts for you in your book doesn’t necessarily speak for any oppressed minority. I’m just saying this stipulation is ridiculous, and totally goes against the inherent purpose of the legislation. I just don’t see how it can ever be ‘reasoned around’. Too much of that happens in Washington as is.

  • mary

    what’s sad about this is that it doesn’t surprise me. our government is just so out of touch but yet, the people aren’t speaking up because we are being persuaded by “change”. that is what i find sad. i know out country isn’t perfect but comparatively to the rest of the world, i’ve enjoyed my life for the last 31 years until now…even more scary days are ahead. a friend of mine posted this quote on FB….

    “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” – C.S. Lewis

  • Excuse me, but did you bother to read what I wrote and what I didn’t write?

    I pointed out that the WSJ article is particularly misleading — It comes from comments (many) on the actual article if you care to read them. This whole penalty thing originated within the far right and has been taken and ran with.

    The penalties fail to take into account how insurance actually functions, IE they assume a husband and wife on separate, individual plans vs a combined family of some sort. I posted the second comment from McKnight’s blog as example of how real life would most often play it out, ie a family plan and NOT individual plans as the WSJ assumes. Playing the numbers games with how things currently exist, you have the exact same problem (neither of those two original comments are mine but I found useful in shedding light on the discussion at hand).

    As for the issue of “poor”, you should probably stop and consider that this isn’t something that even comes into play until you have families where the combined income is $50,000 or more. This marriage penalty uproar really isn’t at any level about the poor and hasn’t ever been.

    As for me being white and male and whatnot, you can continue to assume what you want about me all day long. Frankly, I’m not a huge fan of this healthcare plan and am in support of a full single payer system (a la Canada). But I’m frustrated with any political discussion such as this where it’s seen as wise to intentionally mislead (fudging numbers, making inprobable scenarios, framing something squarely upper middle class as poor) to prop up political support in one direction (or the other).

    Frankly, I loved your book. But if you are going to not bother to hear what I’m saying I’m not going to bother sticking around. And I am going to go speak for the oppressed minorities. While you can continue to assume what you want about my tax bracket, my wife and I move to Africa on February 4th to give our lives serving the poor the there.

  • Brandon – I’m not assuming anything about your tax bracket, nor did I say anything about it. What I was trying to communicate was that it is statistically proven that white males have a higher potential earning/influence/accessability/etc than any other minority group. Therefore, for you to communicate you would take such a “penalty” any day of the week is, from my perspective, extremely insensitive.

    In today’s culture we live in a corrupt system that just continues to perpetuate itself, and the problem lies more within the system than it does with the smaller details; such as this one addendum on a massive document. For me, when I see such crooked and oppressive things in an already wacked system, it has to be brought to light. I am not intentionally misleading anyone, and I’m sorry from your first comment that is what you think I’m doing by this WSJ post. Also, within the system we live in today, I feel people too quickly just leave whenever they don’t like something or feel they’re offended in the least bit. Life is about living in that tension of disagreement. It’s too easy to just leave, as your voice is needed. I apologize for coming off offensive, as that is not what I was trying to do. I was disagreeing with your assessment by highlighting the larger racial and ethnic systemic issues in play.

    As for moving to Africa, I am very humbled by your family’s choice to do such a thing. Hopefully you can help recreate a fair, just and faithful system in your new country, just as I am trying to do here as well. Much love.

  • Mrs T

    Any bill that has so many pages in it is supect to me. I’m sure there is lots of fine print that most haven’t read. Something like health insurance/care for the needy should be done locally. It is too complex an issue for the federal gov’t to tackle. We have our county system, tho not perfect, that helps the needy. We have the freedom to change doctors or not use them. I’m afraid the federal bill will control too much & I don’t trust the makers of it.
    Why do you think ‘Hillary’s bill’ didn’t pass when there was so much interest in it 17 years ago?
    Someone read the fine print!!!!!
    Don’t be naive enough to think that these politicians really care about the poor. They care about their votes so they can get more power. Power corrupts is an old saying that is so true!
    Meanwhile, Andrew, I think GLBT issues are easier than this one to tackle.
    It’s safer to focus back on them.