Penny wise, pound foolish

Penny wise, pound foolish
Penny wise, pound foolish
Associated Press

The conservative effort to convince uninsured Americans to stay that way on purpose may seem ridiculous – because it is – but it’s not going away just yet. As of today, the argument’s proponents even have a new argument for those with no coverage: just think of all the money you’ll save!

A 25 year-old earning less than $24,000 could save $1,000 next year by going without insurance and paying a penalty rather than purchasing coverage on an Obamacare health insurance exchange, according to a new study from the National Center for Public Policy Research. […]

[Author David Hogberg] determined that the penalty for going without health insurance ($95, or 1 percent of taxable income in 2014) is too low while the cost of purchasing insurance on the exchange (even after subsidies) will too high to attract enough younger and healthier participants.

In other words, there’s an individual mandate, but the associated fine is fairly modest (indeed, it’s really more of a tax penalty than a “mandate”). And since it would be cheaper for many younger Americans to pay the penalty than pay for insurance, the argument is obvious: skip the coverage and keep more money in your pocket.

There’s just one pesky problem that seems fairly important: you might get sick.

I’m not necessarily arguing with the arithmetic, so much as I am with the rationale behind the value of insurance itself. Would coverage cost more than the tax penalty? Probably. Why “probably” and not “definitely”?

Because if you gamble and lose, the costs will exorbitant, devastating, and life-threatening.

Conservatives have quite a sales pitch: help the right sabotage the federal health care system to spite the White House, and at the same time, save yourself some money by going without insurance.

But what conservatives tend to brush past is the fine print.

If you get sick, or get in a car accident, or slip on the stairs, your financial future will likely be permanently ruined. Worse, if you put off medical care because you have no insurance, you could die.

Not to put too fine a point on this, but this is why insurance exists. It’s the point of getting coverage. It’s not to save money on the front end, it’s to avoid crushing medical expenses and medical calamities on the back end.

To reiterate a point from two weeks ago, my suggestion to the uninsured would be to ignore those who want you to suffer to advance their cause. That said, if folks take their advice and find themselves unable to pay their medical bills, perhaps they should consider sending them to conservatives who lobbied them to stay uninsured on purpose – after all, they seem eager to “help” you, right?

Affordable Care Act and Obamacare

Penny wise, pound foolish