President Obama’s healthcare package delivers a pay back to the Democratic Party’s most important voting bloc: youth.
The media have focused on the bill’s generous favors to the American Medical Association (Medicare payments), the pharmaceutical industry (no drug importation), AARP (helps group’s insurance business), and trial lawyers (not a speck of tort reform.)
Then there were the budget plums to win lawmakers’ votes. The White House and Democratic leaders handed out Medicare and Medicaid money to states as if they were new bridges, highways or museums.
But the biggest windfall goes to college- and post-college-age young adults. Under the bill, they stay forever young—at least past the age of 26. The new law mandates insurance companies to include medical coverage up to that age in their parents’ insurance policy.
In real life, it means kids can graduate from college at 22, and bum around for, say, four years, without worry. Mom and dad are picking up the premiums. Obama is ordering the insurance firms to pay the medical bills.
Forget the fact the measure is a disincentive to work, or that it might pit parents, who counted on lower premiums, against their children, who want the free care.
Regardless, it promises to help Democrats more than Republicans. There is no more important voting group than those 18 to 29. Of all age groups, they gave Obama his biggest margin over John McCain, 66% to 32%, according to news media exit polls in the 2008 presidential election.
Obamacare mandates that everyone must buy, or have, insurance. Imagine the anger of post-college kids being fined by the feds because they don’t want, or can’t afford, insurance. They would likely take out their anger on Obama and his party.
But the law takes care of that potential pitfall by extending their financial attachment to their parents.
The Congressional Budget Office says such young people looking for individual policies would otherwise face premium increases.
"If they were to buy health insurance outside their place of work, if they did not get employment-based health insurance, the CBO folks are saying you are going to have an increase in premiums in the individuals market," said Robert E. Moffit, a healthcare analyst at the Heritage Foundation. "And those premiums will go up between 10% and 13%. So the individual market is very unfriendly to these folks even though they are young and healthy. It’s unfriendlier than it was before. In effect, what this does, it basically keeps them out of the individual market. Also, politically it insulates them from facing an individual mandate."
The Republicans are not pure on his issue, either. They eschew government mandates, and favor empowering people via tax credits and special savings accounts to buy insurance. But their plan "encourages" insurance companies to keep dependents on the policy through age 25.
There is a trend nationally, state by state, to allow children to stay in their parents policies past the age of 19, when many companies or employers end coverage.
The National Conference of State Legislatures says ages 19 to 29 account for 13 million of the 47 million Americans without health insurance.
But the state laws came before Obama decreed that every one must buy insurance. His bill lets him off the hook with 20-somethings since they now have mom and pop to keep them from breaking the law.
"We think the whole thing is wrong. Everything is going backwards here," Moffit told HUMAN EVENTS. "What we would have done is establish a universal tax credit system, or for anybody paying taxes, get a tax break. We would establish some kind of premium support for low-income people. You wouldn’t be dependent upon your parents’ employer basically for health insurance."
Where does Heritage go from here now that Obama has signed the bill into law?
"We’re going to point out every single problem with it that we have already cited," he said. "Implementation of this is going to be very long and very contentious. And we’re going to make every opportunity to point out what is wrong with this bill. There will be no problem in trying to figure out what the targets will be. They will be surfacing every day."
Heritage already has a talking point.
The Associated Press reported Tuesday that premiums for young people who buy individual insurance will rise by 17 percent. "The higher cost will pinch many people in their 20s and early 30s who are struggling to start or advance their careers with the highest unemployment rate in 26 years," the AP said of its own analysis. The rise stems form the fact Obamacare takes more money from the young to fund coverage for the elderly.