Obama’s Health Care Law Upheld

In a major victory for President Obama, maybe even bigger than the assassination of Osama Bin Laden, the Supreme Court upheld Obama’s healthcare law. I haven’t read through the actual text yet, but the synopses are saying that they deemed the individual mandate to be a tax, and the government has a right to levy taxes. Chief Justice Roberts sided with the majority.

As I said, I haven’t read through it yet. The Times article quotes Roberts:

Chief Justice Roberts wrote that the decision offers no endorsement of the law’s wisdom, and that letting it survive reflects “a general reticence to invalidate the acts of the Nation’s elected leaders.”

“It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices,” he wrote.

Though I can’t yet comment on the law, I do think this is good for the American people. I’ve been in an emergency room before, and those who have no insurance get treated anyway. (When I was there, some drunk dude with a stab wound was singing while the doctors asked if he had insurance.) The insurance companies wind up paying anyway, meaning that they pass the cost on to people who have insurance. This law will bring more flexibility to those with pre-existing conditions, and it will encourage uninsured people to pay for their own coverage.

20 thoughts on “Obama’s Health Care Law Upheld

  1. I like the law’s requirement for allowing people to stay under the parents to 25 and other things cannot be denied because of “pre-conditions” crap.

    I hate the individual mandate (maybe hate is too strong, but I think it is wrong). I put like this..

    “We have a problem. People cannot afford insurance. The companies are ripping everyone off absurd premiums and have to be dragged across the mud when their customers need help anyways.”
    “I got an idea to fix people not having insurance. Let’s make a law making everyone buy it!”
    “So we’ll solve the problem by making everyone guy the insurance that gives terrible service and now is able to charge even higher as now the customer have no choice?”
    “Yup!”
    “Brilliant!”

  2. agree w/ Dreamer…
    this is going to cause insurance rates to go up even further……. and watch the market crash.
    the ppl that work full-time – their paychecks are going to go down b/c employers will have to deduct even more for insurance.
    Companies will not want to hire more FT employees b/c of insurance.
    So ppl will be forced to take PT jobs…maybe multiple PT jobs…and buy their own insurance at $1k a month.

    I’m not sure if this will fix the Healthcare system and don’t think this is the way to do it by penalizing the citizens.

  3. I was going to read the actual law. Then I saw that it’s 974 pages. So I’m gonna half to remain ignorant and just go by what everyone else is saying. :)

    From what I understand, it’s just a tax. So if you’re desperately poor, i.e. $20k a year poor, you probably won’t get penalized at all since you don’t have to pay taxes. If you don’t want insurance, you don’t have to buy it. It’s just that you’ll have to pay a tax. Part of what makes it constitutional is the fact that the tax penalty isn’t too big; it’s not like you have to pay $1,000 a month.

    I have a feeling they’re going after the guys who make decent money but have no health care. I remember a couple years ago, when they first came up with this health care law, there was a dude on the Mark and Dave show who said that he was a successful entrepreneur making six figures, and that he had only a few employees. He had no insurance and had no plans to get insurance. They asked him if he could pay medical bills if he got into a serious car accident that required, say, $100k. The guy said no–he’d just worry about that later. I think the government probably just wants to get more people in the insurance pool since uninsured people still pose a cost when they unexpectedly get hurt.

  4. so you are saying this whole new healthcare law is to penalize anyone that makes “decent money” and chooses not to get healthcare? How does that sound right?
    And the law penalizes based on amount of income – but there should be a limit to how much the penalty is, no matter what you make. Since statistically, there is an average to how much healthcare dollars you hypothetically would have used.

    For example, if I was a billionaire – I wouldn’t buy health insurance. I wouldn’t need it since I could pay for everything directly – and likely the doctors offices I would go to wouldn’t even take health insurance. A lot of docs that cater to wealthy patients don’t even take insurance b/c it’s not worth their time (based on reimbursement rates). Or a lot of insurances don’t cover newer “standards of care” of the new technology available which patients want if they want the best treatment possible. In these cases, patients still end up paying out of pocket b/c the government approves what’s covered by Medicare and a lot of insurance companies go by Medicare reimbursements rates. So even after I pay taxes to the government, they would still make me pay a penalty for not having my OWN insurance which I wouldn’t even use?

    The penalty costs are not a lot AT FIRST….but they will go up alot shortly after.

    And it doesn’t penalize just ppl that make decent money, it penalizes ALOT of people that are just getting buy, and penalizes small businesses.
    For example – when a small business has to look for a health plan to offer, even if it’s just 2 full-time employees, the rates change dramatically (like 20% more) if a female is part of the pool. (b/c of maternity coverage….when statistics show that females usually end up spending less healthcare dollars b/c they take better care of themselves by doing preventative health checks). So now, b/c EVERYONE has to be a part of the health plan, regardless of any conditions or pre-existing conditions, rates will go up a lot more. If the insurance agencys continue to act as they have been, b/c they don’t want to be losing money on this deal.

    Now, I’m not saying ppl should be excluded from health insurance. But I think there are better solutions to address this problem where it doesn’t directly affect all the WORKING citizens’ pocket. A healthcare tax is reasonable if healthcare costs are better regulated – but they are not. Also, I would have more faith in a healthcare tax if our government was more efficient at budgeting itself, but based on Obama’s record… the GSA, and what not, I am very skeptical. I feel that working citizens will just end paying more and more to the government, but our lives will not improve.

    I think many young people in the general public think Obama care is great….. until they get older and actually have to start using Medical services or if they want to be a physician, how this will affect their pay as well! They don’t realize all the other factors involved they didn’t think about. This administration is really spinning stuff so it looks good from afar, but when you really look into it – it’s not so great. So Monet!

  5. A little too late now Linda. There is no longer a viable candidate who can offer an option that the Republicans and Democrats are deadlocking each other on. It seems to me that they are offering the American public a “package deal” to put it. Choose A or choose B, but C comes into play too whether you like it or not.

  6. Is this true for small businesses?

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/healthreform/small-business

    http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2010/09/27/president-obama-signs-small-business-jobs-act-learn-whats-it

    For those struggling to get by?

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/what-health-bill-means-for-you/

    ” The court’s decision to uphold all but one component of the health-care law means new rules for insurers that have already taken effect will remain in place. Beginning in 2014, virtually all Americans will have to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty. There also will be new opportunities to get coverage, including state-based marketplaces known as exchanges* (through which individuals will be able to purchase private plans that meet strict benchmarks for quality) and federal subsidies to help low-income people buy plans on the exchanges. The law will also expand the eligibility rules for Medicaid, but the Court found that states can not be penalized if they decline to comply with the expansion, raising questions as to how effectively the federal government will be able to implement it. ”

    Lots of complexities to this bill….it’s hard to know what’s really required, what burdens will be placed upon those who are sort of caught in between.

  7. Linda,

    Thanks for your well-thought-out response. There’s obviously some stuff about the law itself that I don’t know (since I can’t be bothered to read all 974 pages!). But there’s other stuff I can probably think through.

    So the billionaire question: If you’re a billionaire, there’s clearly no reason for you as an individual to have to have health insurance. Billionaires have enough money to pay for everything themselves. If they run into serious trouble, they can just use their pile of cash. They can, in effect, be their own insurance and their own bank.

    The problem is American people who aren’t billionaires but who act like they are. Like the dude on the Mark and Dave show who I mentioned above. He was saying all kinds of stuff about how he could afford a doctor visit because he was a “successful businessman,” but when Mark and Dave pressed him on the really hard questions about really bad medical problems, he had no answer, and his final response was that he’d just deal with it if it happened. In other words, he’d just be a cost to the rest of us. Obamacare will encourage him to pay.

    So I agree, billionaire expenses would go up. But think about this: Right now, a billionaire could easily get insurance to cover his family of four at the rates everyone else gets. So if a billionaire 50-year old has to pay $800 a month for his family of four, that’s $9,600 a year–a drop in the bucket for a person who has at least $1,000,000,000 in assets. OR…if he really doesn’t want insurance, he can pay the penalty for which, according to factcheck, there is a limit that would cap out at around the same price at today’s “bronze” plan for insurance rates.

    http://factcheck.org/2012/06/how-much-is-the-obamacare-tax/

    I think you’re right about regulation too. Health care has become big business and will eventually have to be regulated. Much like emissions standards, however, I think technology or laws will eventually fall in line. With greater regulation, this will hopefully make sure that people can afford medical treatment while doctors still get paid. It’s not perfect as it is, but with adjustment, hopefully it will be better than what we have right now.

    As for government not budgeting itself, I agree with you there too. Check out what we deal with Oregon:
    http://www.oregonlive.com/politics/index.ssf/2012/04/oregon_public_employees_retire_1.html

  8. the small business tax credit – may work for a few businesses, only if that business meets the requirements, which many won’t. And for businesses to meet the requirement, you would have to pay yourself less than $50K a year. Why would I want to start my own business if I can only pay myself less than $50K/year….but I can get a tiny tax credit from the gov’t?

    And under the new healthcare reform – these businesses can “afford” healthcare to all their workers by purchasing the health exchanges….. – well I guess we’ll see how these exchanges work and what they cover. I have a feeling it’s not going to be better, or even the same, but worse, and very restrictive in what doctors you can go to.

  9. Linda,

    It’s average wages. You don’t have to pay yourself less than $50k, but your average would have to be less than that. Most restaurants and retail shops would qualify. Not sure about doctor’s offices or small law practices. :)

    Mojo,

    I agree. It’s much like anything in finance and insurance. It’s hard to tell exactly what will happen, but hopefully laws and regulations and business will adjust. The economics should make it feasible. With more people paying into the pool, there should be more money. There’s enough money right now.

  10. BTW, it’s been a long time since I’ve worked for a company with fewer than 25 employees, but my guess is that if you had a small practice of any kind where people made more than $50k on average, it might be best to not provide insurance. The last small company I worked for said they couldn’t afford insurance at the time, and they encouraged us to get it ourselves. They said that they planned to grow big and that once they did, they’d pay, but that it was a great chance to get in early with a great company. (The next Google or Facebook!) I don’t know if Obamacare would affect a company like this at all–they didn’t pay for it then, they probably still wouldn’t pay for it today.

  11. Yeah, there are a lot of unknowns here for the small business owner and those who are on the margins, and I blame the administration and all their policy wonks for not communicating better what the hell is actually in this stuff.

    However, I certainly don’t trust the Republicans to be straight forward and in their arguments for opposing this either. You just hope that both parties can find a way to fix any unintended consequences that pop up (ha, fat chance…)

    I am lucky in that my health insurance won’t change much at all, who knows about those who fall between the cracks? Just how much in subsidies will be given to lower income folks to obtain health insurance via the exchanges? But as you stated, with more people paying into the pool, expanding the coverage, that should theoretically keep costs down. Whether it becomes restrictive in which doctors you can see, if the kind of care worsens, nobody knows. We’ll know once it gets into practice.

  12. I do think this is good for the American people. I’ve been in an emergency room before, and those who have no insurance get treated anyway….

    The timing is extremely bad.

    It’s one thing to be implementing a unified health care system during a time of prosperity.

    But right now, with high unemployment and massive fiscal deficits?

    Not to mention an obesity epidemic and massive numbers of Baby Boomers entering retirement age in the coming years?

    The last thing we need is another big government bureaucracy.

  13. Looks like a monopoly tax on a vital industry.

    But maybe you should choose this instead of more war.

  14. Kobu,

    I read her article in the NY Times yesterday, and I just assumed that she was a guy. Bad assumption, I guess. She doesn’t look like your typical economist. Haha…I was expecting an African version of Paul Krugman! The PUAs will be happy that a non-Asian woman is taking an interest in Asians, albeit just the economic side. :)

  15. “The PUAs will be happy that a non-Asian woman is taking an interest in Asians, albeit just the economic side.”

    Groan +_+’

  16. I don’t think the insurance companies would ever let a single-payer-system happen in the U.S. though.

    And why our pathetic version of universal healthcare is making everyone buy insurance. Who wins? The insurance companies! If they can keep single-payer, won’t you think they would push for a system that be in their favor like making everyone buy through them… and what-do-ya-know? We are.

    You know a great irony. One conservative blogger I read thinks the individual mandate is Obama’s way to destroy the insurance companies by bankrupting them to make way for singer-payer. Yeah, I’m sure making everyone have no choice but to buy in means they’ll go bankrupt.

  17. Dreamer,

    Sure, single payer would force insurance companies to have everyone buy in, but I don’t know if single payer would necessarily make more money for the insurance companies. If the government got involved, the insurance companies wouldn’t be setting their own prices. Cheaper companies getting big contracts could force more expensive companies out of business, even if the price difference isn’t so big. Unlike school lunch programs, it’s harder to hide behind numbers that food quality, so I’m guessing this would be best for consumers, not so good for insurance companies that are currently raking it in.

  18. I think you misunderstood me. I mean this system, the individual mandate system is a system made by and for the insurance companies. Not a single payer system.

    A single payer system is bad for insurance as it means nationalizing all the companies. Unless you its single payer system where the government pay for all the co-pays and premiums, I guess that’s a system it where insurance wins and we can lose even harder.

    Or am I mis-undersanding your statement. It seems you’re responding under the understanding that I am saying single payer is good for insurance companies.

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