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ACA Agonistes
Boomers Outraged at What They Have Wrought

How might a decision not to buy insurance on the Obamacare exchanges play itself out? Over at Talking Points Memo, David Kurtz printed an email he received from a healthy 32 year old who has decided not to get insured. Excerpt:

I earn 55,000 a year working in a restaurant, though I have a Masters Degree. I live in Brooklyn. I earn too much to qualify for assistance with healthcare, so my premium is $308/month.

My apartment rent is $1400/month, student loans are just under $800/month, I pay around $200/month in credit card bills, $100 for a cell phone, and $50 for car insurance. Then we have food, movies, metro cards, etc, etc …

Run the numbers, where do I find room for another $308/month???

The next day Kurtz posted reactions to the original story. Many readers expressed their disgust with the Brooklynite’s email, saying it was his own bad choices that had put him in this position. He chose to rack up the student loan debt. He chose to keep his car. He chose to keep going to movies. He chose to live in an expensive neighborhood, or not to take on a roommate. Health insurance is such a fundamental need, many readers said, that he should give up any and all luxuries so that he can pay for it himself rather than leave the health insurance exchanges to the old and the sick.

On the one hand, these critics have a point. Neither frugality nor money management seems to be a part of many millennials’ skill-sets, including this Brooklynite’s. On the other hand, much of the stress young adults feel when it comes to getting insurance is a result of causes that are out of their control. Many are dealing with high and rising costs of living, exploding educational costs, and a poor job market. All of these problems were caused, or made worse, by Boomers and the blue model system they supported.

More important than that, young adults are feeling the brunt of a health care system gone awry. Part of the reason premiums are so expensive is because health care procedures themselves are so expensive. We need to make the health care system work more cheaply and efficiently before it eats us all alive.

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  • qet

    This is amazing. First, though I don’t know, I feel safe in assuming, that the complaining commenters were mostly left-liberals, and there they are using the same arguments that conservatives have used forever (e.g., criticizing welfare recipients), arguments which left-liberals themselves discredit in no uncertain terms. Second, I think Via Meadia is being too hard on Our Hero. I see nothing in his catalog of expenses that suggests prodigality. Student debt? If you added that $800 to his $1,400 rent and he said his mortgage payment was $2,200 per month, no one would imagine that to be an outrageous luxury for a grown man with a wife and kids (implied by his use of “we”), or even for a single man. Owning a home is not per se a luxury. $800/month in student loan debt service on a gross income of $55K does not strike me as beyond the pale, even for a Master’s in Comparative Basketry. The value of an education is not solely in its tendency to secure employment. At least the guy isn;t living with his parents. That’s got to count for something, right? The other items–a car. In America? Really? A car. He is to be expected to give that up so he can buy ObamaSurance? A movie here, a dinner out there? Is Via Meadia suggesting he should make like Scrooge and refuse to pay a ha’penny for another crust of bread? Good grief. Newsflash: no matter what you may have heard from the likes of OFA or ThinkProgress, buying ObamaSurance, buying ANY insurance, is neither a patriotic nor a moral duty.

    • Corlyss

      I heard on NPR today about some professional woman who needs her dole to pay for her condo and her son’s after school programs. I’m floored. Just like I was floored by dozens of reports during the meltdown about 20-something minority McMansion-buyers with kids and pregnant wives and no job when they were given a mortgage and who sat around whining that someone needed to pay their bills so they could stay in their homes. No thought of downsizing anywhere to be seen. The professional woman on NPR needs to move, and move to where the jobs are, not move nearby so she can keep her friends and her high rent and her perks for her son.

  • rheddles

    You people are bigots.

    Those problems were caused or created by the “Greatest” Generation and their new deal parents. Get off the boomers. All they did was Medicare part D.

    • Andrew Allison

      Nope, they were created by the so-called “Democrats” who voted for this POS without knowing what was in it. One can only hope that the electorate will recognize this in November (not that the Republicans are any better, but such crimes should not go unpunished).

    • Bruce

      Yes and no, as far as it goes. The boomers did not take a stand against the entitlements and deficits that everybody with a calculator could see were unsustainable. Yes, their parents created most of the monster, but they perpetuated it. You saw what happened when Bush tried to reform SS. Yes, Medicare Part D was unpaid for, but the boomers also voted in large numbers for Dems (to punish Bush) that gave us ACA. As the post points out, the millennials really damaged their future by voting blue. “But he’s so cool and he’s black.”

  • Anthony

    Title Boomers Outraged has forced to mind five years of Via Media commentaries and responses. Our democratic republic is an extensive country and AI’s reach has extended it and become global. Which elicits my observation: in reading regular Feeds now an insightful audience could juxtapose cosmopolitan writing with overly restrictive and decidedly pejorative comments vis-a-vis themes, feeds, interpretations, essays, etc. That is, skeptical self analysis once hallmarked replies to Via Media; if what AI provided did not harmonize with readers predilection, response generally reflected a sense of subtle distinctions between points of view. Now despite what objectively may be the case concerning varied American viewpoints, idea, proposal, proposition, concept, region, demographic, citizen, whatever must be strongly (though composition) refuted, resisted, stereotyped, demonized, you name it. AI has become, less at some level, a portal for discussion and counterpoint but a vista for the doctrinaire. I think WRM, I am attempting to write that we do not like what is unfamiliar or unknown. To manage this, we assert ourselves with opinions and ideas that make us seem capable and certain; more importantly, once we hold these ideas, it becomes extremely difficult to admit they are wrong (when and if facts change). Cognitive dissonance or wounded ego is too great a price …

  • Andrew Allison

    Sadly, TAI completely misses the point.
    Why on earth would “a healthy 32 year old [sic]” making $55K pay $308 a month ($554 for a healthy 56 year-old in CA) for a policy with a $4000 deductible, a 40% co-pay thereafter and a $6,350 maximum out-of-pocket expense? On an annualized basis, he’d pay $3,700 for insurance and, if he got moderately unhealthy, almost $5,000 for medical expenses. If you were a healthy 32 year-old, what would you do? There’s a reason why the majority of those enrolling are in the 45-to-64 age group. This will, of course, cause a massive failure which will, as usual thanks to the recovery provisions, be paid for by the taxpayer unless Congress starts doing its job.

  • ljgude

    I don’t know the terms of the policy our healthy 32 year old would get for $308 a month, but if my esteemed colleague Andrew Allison hasn’t been at the turps then our Brooklynite would be getting no meaningful insurance. The ACA was stillborn, has been coaxed back into a semblance of life, but if healthy people are asked to pay high premiums for polices whose deductibles are catastrophic they are just not going to buy them. Putting the $3700 a year into a health savings account would be a more rational solution. Better yet telecommute from a country where healthcare is affordable and accessible. If you are a healthy millennial disintermediating some terminal Blue Business, do it from a financially safe distance.

  • TommyTwo

    “Many readers expressed their disgust with the Brooklynite’s email,
    saying it was his own bad choices that had put him in this position.”

    When “the right” claimed that many of the uninsured could actually become insured if they changed their priorities, “the left” accused it of being out of touch and heartless. The left then addressed the problem of the uninsured by passing the ACA. When that resulted in health insurance becoming more expensive for the young, the left’s response to their complaints is: “Change your priorities.”

    (qet makes the same point.)

    “All of these problems were caused, or made worse, by Boomers and the blue model system they supported.”

    True enough, but in this case, health care reform was passed in no small part thanks to strong support from the very young who are now shocked, shocked at the fact there is no free lunch. They don’t get to blame the Boomers for this.

  • Boritz

    Is there a chance that H32YO opposes in any other way the policy makers that led us to this point? If you gave him a quiz with questions like Should the rich pay their fair share? Should the poor be discriminated against when taking out a home loan? Should the government take action to help victims of predatory lending stay in their homes? Do you support politicians who oppose tax breaks for the rich? Do you support those working to end income inequality? Do you agree that the Republican Party has been unduly influenced by the tea party and the extreme right and is taking this country backwards? I’m sure he would have all the right answers.

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