Monday, March 29, 2010

Put your comments here on the mandate post

Thanks. We're still bugging typepad about getting comments working again.

32 comments:

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Alan Gunn said...

Furthermore, we have learned since the bill passed that although the penalties are considered "taxes" many of the usual ways of enforcing the tax laws don't apply. For instance, there are no criminal or civil penalties for not paying the penalties and the IRS can't seize your assets. Apparently, the only effect of calling these things "taxes" is that if you would get a tax refund, ignoring the penalties, and you owe a penalty, your refund will be reduced by the amount of the penalty. You can avoid that by reducing your withholding or estimated-tax payments.

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Anonymous said...

It's almost as if the whole goal is to drive private health insurance companies out of business, leaving only the Government. And yet it's the private corporations who will appear to be the bad guys, by dumping people into the exchange.

Nah. Probably just a bizarre unintended consequence.

Anonymous said...

The tax subsidy on employer provided insurance is 15% from payroll taxes and another 15% to 25% from income taxes depending on filing status even for people who earn about $40,000 a year, and many families would have a second earner so it would often be 25%. If you assume that this is captured by the employer the net cost of insuring workers would only be about $450,000 and subtracting the fine would be $310,000.
Only the families with a single earner would be better off in the exchange but singles would be worse off and many families would too even it the got an extra $2000 a year in before tax income.

Andrew said...

Have the shills put their heads together and decided whether they want to undermine or reinforce the employer link to health insurance?

If they haven't decided yet, I'd like them to put their heads together harder. A LOT harder.

Joe Kristan said...

Not only are the penalties for the individual mandate inadequate for their intended purpose, they are toothless. Absent remedial legislation, it's on the honor system. Well drafted, guys.

Will McLean said...

The example given is unrepresentative. A company where every worker had two children and a stay at home spouse would be pretty unusual. A better example would be to assume median household size, income and employment.

Anonymous said...

Since the law has gotten rid of denying coverage for pre-existing coverages, there is no down side to paying the penalty for not having insurance and then buying it when when you get sick.

Nick Rowe said...

You don't get it. This plan was DESIGNED to get employers to dump people onto the public option which magically transformed into the more politically palatable exchanges. This was ALWAYS intended to get people off private insurance. Obama's pledge that "if you like your health care coverage, you can keep it" rings hollow when either your employer drops your coverage or your coverage drops your employer. It not only achieves the intended goal, but it makes the employers and insurance companies look like the "bad" guys.

Obama is a socialist and socialist medicine was and is his objective. This is a small step in that direction, and he has even said as much in previous interviews if you have been paying attention.

Anonymous said...

Nick - of course the policies sold on the exchanges are all provided by private companies (no public option, after all). So you could equally well say that this is a means to break the link between employment and healthcare. And doesn't everyone agree that's the biggest single distortion in the system that needs to be fixed?

MikeWebkist said...

Could this have the side effect of actually creating a reasonably functional market for health services that cost less than the premiums? Obviously, "waiting until I get sick" actually means "waiting until I get sick enough that my out-of-pocket expenses would be more than the premiums." For anything below that cutoff people would be paying cash which sounds like an improvement in the market...

haasd said...

The individual mandatae is actually the $695 or 2.5% of income whichever is greater which is far more meaningful. I understand why democrats have not been promoting this but it does make me feel better that the individual mandate is strong enough. I thought it was doomed to failure before I found out about the 2.5%.

Andrew said...

"So you could equally well say that this is a means to break the link between employment and healthcare."

If you were going to say that, why wouldn't you also say: "if they wanted to fix the distortion they created between employment and healthcare, why didn't they just...fix the distortion?"

At least you can say that employers back in the day understood insurance in the context of price controls. Actual insurance is not pay. It is like a lottery, so it is not actually a reasonably taxable event until it is paid out.

However, if you change the concept of "insurance" to not being insurance, but being a pass-through pay-them-as-we-go transfer directly from healthy people to sick people, then you have destroyed the original situation. The government did that part too.

mckenzieg1 said...

The "pay the penalty then sign up for insurance when you get sick" strategy sounds plausible, until you think about what "get sick" really means in this context.

For this discussion, "get sick" == "needs a significant amount of medical services". Many of the scenarios for that, particularly for younger, previously healthy people, involve accidents or illnesses with sudden onset - food-borne e-coli, a neglected cold that turns into pneumonia, an unexpected coronary problem.

If you go from healthy to very sick within the span of a few hours or days, when exactly are you going to apply for health insurance? And how long will it take for your application to get processed? Will you be bankrupt (or dead) first?

Anonymous said...

How about businesses? John Cassidy offers what seems to be the clincher:

___

Considering that last Nov. I ran these kinds of analyses for Mandlenbaum at the NYT and there were 3 different articles in the NYT based upon my analysis....well, the person you cite is a little late to the discussion. If anyone thinks Walmart supported healthcare reform because they were public-spirited.... there is this bridge in Arizonza. Walmart will dump its health insurance plans in a NY minute and just give top employees enough of a raise to to cover their costs. Ditto every kind of business you can think of where the costs of the fine + employee bribe/hush money for top employees will be equal to or less than their current costs of coverage. They would be stupid to NOT dump providing health insurance.

Dan H. said...

It seems to me that this is by design. They couldn't get a public option, so they backdoored one in by setting up incentives which will cause a flood of people into the public exchange. The insurance companies participating will become little more than public utilities in charge of dispensing the costs according to government schedules. It's a public option managed by quasi-public utilities.

It also looks like a wealth transfer. It seems to me that low-income employees with health insurance will be able to negotiate a raise in salary equal to the cost of their health plan minus some amount, then buy their own heavily subsidized insurance on the exchanges and pocket the rest. If I my employer pays $7500 for my insurance and I pay $2500, I can negotiate a pay increase of maybe $5,000 in exchange for dropping my health insurance. The employer pays the $2000 penalty and comes out $500 ahead. I take my $7500, and buy a subsidized policy for $2500 and pocket $5,000 more per year. Of course, that's just a roundabout way of passing a welfare payment to me from the taxpayers. It's wealth redistribution from one part of the middle class to another, based on fairly arbitrary characteristics like whether you already had health care, whether you have children, if you're married, and if your spouse has health insurance as well.

This would also indicate that it will be pretty distortionary in the sense that different businesses will see their employee costs change, but the change will depend on the nature of the workforce. A company with lots of married employees will see a different effect than a company with single employees. Companies employing white collar people from two income households will be affected differently than companies who employ single young people. What a mess.

Steve said...

Tyler,

Is there any research regarding the substitutability of income for non-cash benefits like health insurance. My only quibble with Cassidy's analysis is that it assumes that the security guard would be satisfied with his $2000 raise.

Steve

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