In the wake of the recent Supreme Court decision to uphold the Affordable Healthcare Act, commonly known as Obamacare, and particularly its controversial individual mandate, there has been an endless stream of debate and discussion on the web and in the news. This also led to a Twitter debate between myself and another Twitter user. (By the way, be sure to follow me, @FoaRyan, on Twitter!)

The conversation basically went as follows:

  • Other “Tweeter” – the Obamacare tax is a tax only if you elect not to be insured.
  • Me – where do you draw the line on personal freedom? I’m now required to buy something. Too far for me.
  • Other Tweeter – quit sniveling. Get insured or get taxed. Nobody should die because YOU’RE having a tantrum.
  • Me – I have insurance, thank you. Just curious where you draw the line.
  • Other Tweeter – I have no problem at all taxing morons stuck in the 18th century.
  • Me – you have just called 50% of Americans morons. But I guess that answers my question. Thanks.

We went on for a little bit longer, and honestly I was enjoying myself. I’m sure the other party was also. My judgement of 50% of Americans was based on poll data, and I provided a link to a Rasmussen poll about who is for and who opposes the bill. The other tweeter, to give credit, also provided a link to another poll showing that only 38% of Americans want to keep trying to prevent the new law’s implementation. However, that same poll also shows that Americans are equally divided on their favor of the law.

Tax or Fine

Now, let’s get back on topic. Namely, that topic would be paying for health insurance vs. being taxed. Well, that sounds like what the conditions of the law are, but it isn’t exactly how it plays out. If you can’t afford health insurance, you will have to pay a tax (fine), right? That depends. It depends on whether or not you qualify for the government’s plan, and if you do, there’s no tax. So the argument that some are throwing a tantrum and trying to avoid paying into the system is really not a relevant argument. Those who make a certain amount of money will certainly be required to pay in one way or another, but those who are not paying and make BELOW that certain amount will be immune. They won’t be paying anything. Doesn’t that sound like the way it is now?

According to a Business Insider article, if someone makes less than $9,500 in a year, they are not required to pay any penalty/tax. There are also other exceptions that could make someone exempt from the law. My only point is this, if the problem with our healthcare system is that people are receiving care and not paying for it, this problem is not solved. People will still be receiving care without paying, except now it appears they will be protected by law to do so.

Think about this, if you were told that as soon as your income crossed a certain threshold, your income tax rate would double (assuming you pay any income tax at all currently), where would your ideal income be?

Let’s get more practical. If you make $29,900 a year and pay $5,000 in taxes (about 15%), but if your income went up $100 to $30,000 because you worked some overtime or got a pay raise, and you then had to pay $10,000 (about 30%), where do you think you’d try to keep your income? In that scenario, you’d really have to make $35,000 before you broke even on your actual income.

So let me ask this in a different way – if you knew that as soon as your income hit a certain level, you’d now have to pay for health insurance or be taxed, pay income tax, lose deductions due to increased “ability” to pay, and so on, what would you be tempted to do?

The Result

Now we have a healthcare system that in effect encourages people to become welfare recipients, rather than encouraging people to get health insurance. This is the part where I’m supposed to point out that the income tax started at 3%, Social Security wasn’t designed for people living into their 90’s, and government always gets out of control. And that’s exactly right. This healthcare overhaul is just turning into another socialized system that will plague this country. It doesn’t fix healthcare, it doesn’t prevent doctors from being sued frivolously, and it doesn’t lower the cost of insurance or health care in general. It needs to be repealed. I don’t like the notion of “repeal and replace,” and I may explain my reason for that statement in a later post.

But what about you? Got a better idea? Think it’s not a big deal that you can now be taxed for breathing air in America? Do you think healthcare is a fundamental right? Or maybe you’re just planning to move to Singapore. Any way you choose, I’d like to hear your thoughts!