In a highly publicized debate with Chelsea Handler (video here), Tomi Lahren admitted that while she opposes Obamacare, she is taking advantage of the so-called "under 26" provision. This mandates that insurers allow parents to keep their adult children on their plans until they are 26-years-old.
Every liberal publication is publishing snarky headlines this morning, slamming Lahren for her "hypocrisy." The Washington Post predictably wrote in their headline, "Tomi Lahren, conservative firebrand, bashes Obamacare while benefiting from it."
Oh, you all got her good. Nice work. Plus one point for zinger of the day.
Besides ignoring that all the healthcare reform plans President Trump and Lahren supported all included keeping this provision, this view of Lahren's comments also ignores the reality of how Obamacare has impacted millennials.
First of all, this episode does show who Obamacare helps: privileged middle-class millennials whose parents can afford to add them to their plans.
If you don't belong to a rich family, that provision doesn't help.
When I was under 26-years old, I couldn't take advantage of this because my family circumstances aren't as fortunate as Lahren's. Like many Americans, my parents couldn't add me — yet I made too much money to qualify for Medicaid, even if it was expanded in Virginia.
The only other millennials helped by Obamacare were those added to Medicaid, although some studies show Medicaid actually results in worse outcomes than those without insurance.
So, in summary, if you're low-income or your family is well-off, Obamacare helps.
But what about those of us who have middle-class jobs or are independent proprietors?
Obamacare literally targets us to pay for the rest of the system. Using the individual mandate and price controls, Obamacare forces more young people into the health insurance market — and once they're forced in, they have to pay more than their fair share due to price controls in the law.
From my piece on this last week:
According to the Society of Actuaries, this has resulted in 5-to-10 percent higher premiums for Americans ages 25-to-40. A 24-year-old making 250 percent above the poverty level is paying $600 more per year than they should, according to Oliver Wyman. A Blue Cross Blue Shield Association study said these price controls would force half a million young Americans not to seek insurance. RAND Corporation estimates taking these price controls back to a normal market level of 5:1 would reduce premiums by $2,100 to $2,800 for the average 24-year old.
"If you think about the actuarial value of the premium, then that 24-year-old is getting 73 cents in value for every dollar paid out of pocket," Kurt Giesa, a partner at Oliver Wyman, said to Inside Health Insurance Exchanges…
In 2015, 8 million Americans paid fines for not having insurance; the average fine was $210. In 2016, there were fewer people fined, but average fines were more than double the 2015 rates. 6.5 million people were fined an average of $470 in 2016. The vast majority of those fined were young Americans.
With the above data and facts, it's almost impossible to argue Obamacare was a net-positive for young Americans.
Yes, it may help those like Tomi, who admitted she was "lucky" to be on her parents' plan. But, for those of us not lucky enough to be born into the middle- or upper-income classes, it couldn't be worse.
Ron Meyer (@Ron4VA) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. He is editor of Red Alert Politics (a sister publication to the Washington Examiner). This piece was originally published at Red Alert Politics.
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