WH Press Secretary: You Can Avoid Paying Penalties If You Sign Up For Our Unaffordable Health Care...You Idiots

Posted: Oct 28, 2016 2:05 PM

Obamacare premiums are going through the roof, which is one of the main problems plaguing President Obama’s heath care law. Donald Trump has taken a swipe at the deductibles from the plans offered under the bill, saying they’re so high that you’d need to get hit by a Komatsu tractor in order benefit from the law. With Obamacare falling apart, more Americans are opting to pay the penalty to remain uninsured since it’s more economical to take a risk than pay monthly premiums that are simply torpedoing home budgets. Health insurance companies weren’t expecting to cover this many claims and incur severe losses. As a result, they’re leaving—and health care is already a rather pricy part of one’s budget. ABC News listed all three as reasons for why premiums are spiking, which were entirely predictable; that, and the fact that Obamacare enrollment was off by 24 million, according to numbers crunched by the Congressional Budget Office. That’s less people in the pool, which means the ones who were driving up costs, the old people, weren’t being offset.

For those paying penalties to remain uninsured because this president’s law was so terrible have more bad news. It’s being increased to $700. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest offered the solution to us simpletons: just sign up for Obamacare. Sign up for our egregiously unaffordable health care program that was sold to us by a series of well thought out lies and avoid the penalty. And this observation that the law is unaffordable is now becoming a bipartisan consensus. Minnesota Democratic Gov. Mark Dayton recently admitted that Obamacare is unaffordable. Yet, Earnest seems to think that we can still buy plans for $75 a month or less:

We want to make sure that people understand the facts about the opportunities that are available to them. And if people are discouraged about what opportunities are available to them, that might be understandable given the headlines, but it's not understandable given the opportunities that are available to the vast majority of Americans who sign up. Because more than seven in 10 Americans who sign up for the marketplace will be able to purchase a plan for $75 a month or less, after you factor in tax credits -- tax credits that exist because of the Affordable Care Act.

So that's why the President continues to be optimistic about the law and its impact on middle-class families across the country. And it's why the President continues to be energetic in making the case that this is a top priority.

And we want to encourage people -- it doesn’t cost anything to window-shop, and people can do that now by going to healthcare.gov and taking a look at the options that are available to them in their community. That doesn’t cost anything. But what most people will find, particularly people who signed up last year, many people will find that there actually is a comparable plan that they can sign on to that could actually save them money, that would cost less. So we're encouraging people to shop around, whether they have health care or not. And that opportunity is available at healthcare.gov today.

And finally, we know that the system, overall, benefits -- everybody's costs go down -- when more people sign up. So that's why we're making such an aggressive effort to include people all across the country, particularly young people, to encourage them to avail themselves of this opportunity.

All of this is particularly important when you consider that the penalty that is imposed for people who don’t sign up for health care is quite significant. This year it's about $700. And I think our argument is pretty simple, which is, why would you pay $700 to Uncle Sam when you don’t need to? You can avoid having to make that $700 payment if you go and sign up and for health care, which, of course, also affords you a variety of benefits that protect you and your family in the event of an illness.

For starters, what options is this guy talking about? More than 1,000 counties in 26 states are going to have only one health care insurer operating in those respective markets next year. That’s no choice—and the Associated Press noted that next year is when there will be the least amount of choice seen in the health care arena since this law was enacted. Third, young people have zero incentive to sign up for Obamacare; most of them are probably insured through their parents' plan and the Obama administration decided to extend dependent coverage until age 26. Also, young people don’t go to the doctor as often, nor are they sick as much as the elderly, thus negating the need for them to event think about health insurance. I’m betting that more young people don’t sign up for Obamacare, which is a focal point in the final months of this administration.

The law sucks. The plans suck. The premiums suck. But buy into Obamacare anyway even though the costs are unaffordable and if you don’t we’ll still get money out of you with a penalty (it’s really a tax) for being uninsured because we have an individual mandate to encourage participation. Our plan is that good. It’s so good; it’s mandatory. All of this seems to be the Obama White House’s position, which is nothing more than a tantrum. It’s actually a shakedown. You don’t want to get hit with this penalty, sign up. Either way the government gets a piece in this double-dipping scheme. We get screwed over, being squeezed at both ends by the state over a health care law that simply does not work.

Also, Earnest mentioned the $75 talking point before. The Washington Post fact-checkers annoyingly didn’t offer any Pinocchios, but mentioned that the White House should be clearer when referring to the exchanges. Maybe those $75 a month plans exists, but they’re only for folks who are eligible for the tax subsidies. They’re not for everyone [emphasis mine]:

Like many readers, we originally thought Earnest was speaking broadly, about all Americans. But seen in the context of his overall comments, it’s clear he was talking about people who participate in the exchanges.

That is increasingly a self-selected grouppeople who qualify for tax credits and cost-sharing that helps keep costs low for people who have incomes not much above the official poverty line. But for people who do not qualify for subsidies, premiums and deductibles are significantly higher.

We can understand the confusion of our readers, as Earnest did not make clear that he was including the impact of the tax subsidies. (Similarly, critics of Obamacare frequently fail to include the impact of tax credits when they discuss premiums on the exchanges.) We are not going to award Pinocchios, but the White House should be clearer about why premiums are so reduced for people buying insurance on the exchanges.