Paul Krugman writes that, “Under Obamacare, someone blessed with good health” — or someone who maintains good health by eating right and exercising, for that matter — “might find his (or, more rarely, her) premiums going up” in order to subsidize the costs of care for those who aren’t blessed with good health — or those whose high costs for health care is a consequence of their own unhealthy lifestyle choices, for that matter.
So if you are young and healthy, Krugman admits, you might be among the “losers” of this game. Krugman’s answer to the so-called Affordable Care Act’s critics who say that “Not everyone wins from the policy!” is “Well, duh.”
That might come as a shock to people who supported Obamacare because they believed Obama when he sold it to them on the grounds that everyone’s yearly premiums would be reduced by an average of $2,500 per family.
Of course, Krugman is right. This isn’t a surprise. The whole purpose of the individual mandate, after all, is to force young, healthy people to subsidize the costs for those who require a lot of care. As I wrote in my paper, “The Logical Flaws of the Supreme Court’s Ruling on the Affordable Care Act”,
It is important to emphasize the Court’s explicit recognition of the fact thatthe purpose of the mandate is to subsidize the costs of insurance premiums for unhealthy individuals by forcing healthy individuals who are on the whole financially better off without it to purchase an insurance policy. The Act does nothing to solve the problem of Americans choosing unhealthy lifestyles; on the contrary, its incentives are perversely contrary to that goal. Rather, it rewards people for doing so while individuals who eat a healthful diet and otherwise make healthy lifestyle choices are penalized by making them pay for the health care costs of their fellow Americans who choose less wisely. This is not to say that choosing a healthy lifestyle can guarantee one will never require health care, and there are certainly times when care is needed for unexpected illnesses or injuries that are no fault of an individual’s lifestyle choices. Nevertheless, the choice of many Americans to live unhealthy lifestyles, as the Court points out, contributes significantly to the problem of the high costs of health care. Despite its name, the Affordable Care Act does nothing to address such underlying causes of unaffordable care. With it, Congress set out from the beginning only to deal with one of the symptoms—namely, high insurance premiums—and did so in a manner that they recognized would only exacerbate the problem, thus making it “necessary” to enact the individual mandate.
Of course, this aspect of the law wasn’t something Paul Krugman was bringing up at the time the passage law was being debated. To the best of my knowledge, he never wrote a column or blog post criticizing Obama for lying to the American people, falsely claiming that everybody’s premiums would go down.
Actually, it’s not only young, healthy people who will see an increase in their premiums. Obamacare does nothing to lower premiums. All it purports to do is slow the rate of increase in the cost for health insurance. But more on that later…