Like many young people, I've been too busy to pay attention to Obamacare. Democrats passed a healthcare law, the Supreme Court upheld the insurance mandate as a tax, and since then, congressional Republicans have threatened to hold their breath and stomp their feet until they turn blue and pass out. Or until the law is defunded.
None of that means a thing to me. Until recently, I lacked a job with benefits, and the only concern I had was this: how does this affect my insurance premiums? The answer, unfortunately, is that for most of us recent graduates, it'll spike our premiums. A new push by Generation Opportunity (GOp ... like GOP with a little less facial Republicanism, but still funded by the Koch brothers) is encouraging our nation's youth to "opt-out" of Obamacare by paying the minor penalty, and abstaining from overpriced healthcare.
The Case for Opt-Out
Right there. If you don't opt-out, a man in an Uncle Sam costume will violate you. If that's not enough of a reason ...
Fear mongering aside, is there a good reason to opt-out? The insurance exchanges, which guarantee low rates for older Americans and those with preexisting conditions, depend heavily on young people opting in. Our rates go up in order to subsidize others' healthcare.
One Forbes blogger estimates that a California male non-smoker (that's me!) will have his rates at least doubled. Some argue that even if we pay more now, it'll even out when we're older, grayer, and a lot less healthier. Others, factoring in the time-value question of pay now, or pay later, refute that claim.
For the uninsured youth, this is a bummer. The reality, for law graduates' salary distribution, is that most of us are either unemployed or making nearly nothing after loan payments. A few of us are making a ton.
Most of us also make just enough to not qualify for Obamacare subsidies. If you don't get benefits at work, and have student loan payments, this is going to hurt. Opting-out, paying the penalty, and praying for good health might be your best option.
The Case for Opt-In
It's the devil's dilemma: pay the higher premiums or pay a tiny tax and go uncovered? There is no good choice here.
For a long while after graduating, I was uninsured, and it really does make you think twice before having fun.
Go snowboarding? What if I fall and crack my wrist?
Recreational hockey? Not likely.
How about that motorcycle license? Nope, not worth the financial risk of medical bills.
The truth is, Obamacare carries few benefits for our unique situation. It expanded coverage under parents' plans until age 26 (though your school probably had coverage), it covers more preventative care services, and it prevents denial of coverage based on preexisting conditions. Of course, our age group is widely labeled the "young invincibles" for a reason.
The reality is, Obamacare is here, and it may cost you more money to be insured. You can risk your financial future by going uncovered, or much like the proctological exam depicted in GenOpp's other opt-out ad, your best bet might just be to go along with it, and hope that it ends as quickly as possible.
Editor's Note: This week, we are working to present you with some facts about Obamacare without a strong political bent one way or another. As the Obamacare sign-up deadline approaches, look for posts across our LP blogs with more thoughts and information.
- Spread Your Legs for Uncle Sam (Time)
- You Ask, We Answer: More Of Your Questions About The Affordable Care Act (NPR)
- Least Important Research Ever: BigLaw Starting Pay Still $160k (FindLaw's Greedy Associates Blog)