Human Events Blog

ObamaCare: Much ado that accomplished nothing

The Heritage Foundation has been riffing on the “12 Days of Christmas” by offering “12 Days of ObamaCare Surprises.”  Each day, a new box of unexpected horror is taken from beneath the ObamaCare Christmas tree and unwrapped.  Today’s little surprise concerns the individual mandate – the protean trans-Constitutional “tax/penalty,” which is paid by anyone who dares to defy the government’s command to purchase heavily regulated health insurance:

In 2010, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) estimated that 4 million people would pay the penalty in 2016 and that collections from those penalties would be about $4 billion per year between 2017 and 2019.

In 2012, the CBO and JCT updated their estimate of those paying the mandate to 6 million people in 2016, totaling $7 billion in tax revenue and growing to $8 billion per year from 2017-2022.

Surprise: That’s an increase of 2 million more uninsured people paying the penalty each year and about $3 billion more in tax collections annually.

It also tracks fairly closely with the actual number of hard-core uninsured from before ObamaCare was imposed.  A lot of fanciful numbers were thrown around during the days leading up to passage of the bill.  Of the 32 million total that could be backed up reasonably well by Census numbers, as the Weekly Standard summarized in 2010, 8 million were on Medicaid, 10 million were not legal U.S. citizens, and 11 million were “rich” people with incomes over $75,000.  That only leaves 3 million truly “uninsurable” people.  Throw in another 6 million increase that some studies insisted the Census did not detect, and you’re up to 9 million.

Quibbling about these figures will probably never end, but it’s hard to look at these new CBO projections without getting the idea that ObamaCare did not radically change the number of people who lack health insurance – it just reshuffled their ranks a bit, at the cost of driving up expenses for everyone else, destroying countless jobs, provoking Constitutional crises, threatening the quality of health care, confusing the hell out of everyone, and setting our already stratospheric federal deficit on course for Mars.

And, of course, the new cohort of uninsured are paying a “tax/penalty” the old uninsured didn’t have to pay.

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