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Affordability Drives Fear of Obamacare and the Individual Mandate

President Obama has staked his career on it
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Paying for insurance is like buying a really expensive ticket for a lottery you would rather not win. From car insurance to medical insurance, people need coverage for unexpected expenses they know they cannot afford. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act created high standards to guarantee health insurance would work for policyholders, but it has yet to ease concerns over the affordability of coverage. An ongoing lack of certainty and answers, coupled with reports of widespread premium increases, scare people, especially considering the individual mandate requires them to purchase insurance or pay a fine.

In late September, 2013 as healthcare.gov was about to be launched, some pundits were comparing the average monthly payment for a mid-tier health insurance plan to that of the average monthly payment for a new car. In many respects, this emphasizes the reason so many Americans are fearful of the individual mandate and Obamacare as a whole. It also demonstrates the financial divide between the wealthy political elite, who likely have health insurance as a guarantee, and the majority of Americans, who sometimes see it as an unnecessary necessity.

A great number of people cannot afford an additional car payment. In fact, many people cannot afford a new car, period. Although the median household income for all Americans may be around $50,000 per year, the median household income for the bottom 90 percent of Americans is around $30,000 per year. For most people, this means buying even a used car can be a struggle, whether or not it is an absolute necessity. Regrettably, this is the economic relativity for a large of number people living in cities like Philadelphia and once thriving areas like Crawford County, Pennsylvania. Quite frankly, it is not an issue of wanting health insurance for most of the uninsured.

The Marketplace healthcare insurance premiums may be a good deal and everyone may need health insurance to live well, yet healthcare becomes a luxury when the ever-increasing costs of modern day living quickly eat away at the stagnate wages of the majority. Most people want to be healthy and want medical care; however, this means nothing when tough choices must be made. Considering how unresponsive our government has become and the way politicians toss relatively large quotes about as though they are trivial amounts, many Americans fear they are being stuck with a bill they cannot afford.

What people need is assurances that their government will help them financially, not crush them with taxes and mandates. Unfortunately, it seems the only news coming from our political leaders involves the broken Marketplace website and how Washington is trying to coerce insurance providers into renewing obsolete health insurance plans for a minority as a way for President Obama to honor an over simplified promise. Although the reports are becoming less pessimistic with time, our government continues to neglect the core issues most Americans fear.

Furthermore, opponents of Obamacare are not helping the situation with their constant efforts to undermine reforms. They are simply latching onto the fears of the American People and using them for political gain instead of acting as leaders and solving problems with solutions that address the needs of most Americans. Unfortunately, their concerns are largely focused on business interests and an irrational drive to avoid increased costs for themselves, not the wellbeing of the financially vulnerable; henceforth, the options they push are terribly destructive to the majority of Americans.

Consequently, both Democrats and Republicans need to do a better job of addressing the concerns of those most affected by policy deficits like those found in the Affordable Care Act. Our leadership needs to reassure people by making government more responsive, so the American People can trust government to make constructive policy changes.