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Reader's Forum
The cost of Obamacare: Is it too much?
Article published on Tuesday, March 4, 2014
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Editor:
On Dec. 11 a reader wrote a letter to the Tampa Bay Times saying that he was pleased that through the new Affordable Care Act his 26-year-old daughter was able to get medical insurance that also included some dental coverage. He lamented that at over $4,000 a year ($340 a month) it was quite expensive. She doesn’t qualify for any subsidy because her earnings of $30,000 put her over the threshold.

Is the cost too much? Let’s pretend the reader’s daughter is in Ontario, Canada, and earning the same $30,000 where the health care is free. Or is it free?

First, she would have to pay more in federal income tax. Her current rate of 11.08 percent would jump to 15 percent. Since Florida doesn’t have a state income tax and Ontario does, she would have to deduct another 5.05 percent for the Ontario provincial income tax.

Whenever she buys something from a retail store, instead of Florida’s low 6 or 7 percent retail sales tax she would be paying 13 percent. Over the course of a year, with everyday purchases, that adds up. If she bought a $30,000 automobile, tack on an extra $2,100 over and above what she’d be paying in Florida.

Gas for her car would be about $2 more or $5.20 a gallon (converted from liters) and heaven forbid if she likes a little vodka in her orange juice. A 1.75 liter of Smirnoff Vodka can be bought in Florida for $18. The same bottle bought in Ontario is $54. Plus she would be paying sales tax on almost everything from taxicabs to dry cleaning, even lawyer’s fees.

There is no dental or prescription coverage provided by the Ontario plan. She would be purchasing this insurance from an outside source such as Blue Cross, which includes co-pays and would add another $1,008. ($84 a month) to her health care costs.

If one were to break down the taxes that a Canadian pays (of any wage and age bracket up to 65) to get his or her free health care, plus having to pay for prescriptions and dental work out of his or her own pocket, it would work out to more than what an American is going to be paying for Obamacare.

This is offset by the fact that health coverage in Canada doesn’t include deductibles or co-pays.

The results are?

The American hospitals, especially the for-profit ones, offer the best in the world in the way of technology, equipment, treatment and low wait time, but up till now, it was only for those who had insurance coverage or who could afford it. With the Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare) most will now qualify for those same benefits. In this writer’s opinion, Obamacare is certainly a good deal for some 37 plus million Americans. Also, it will reduce the numbers of Americans who go bankrupt for the nonpayment of medical bills.

The downside? The insurance companies who administer these programs bring in the premiums and then pay out the medical bills; what’s left over, as their profit is 12 billion dollars. Not chump change at all. Imagine if there was a not-for-profit system similar to what the Canadians have and that same 12 billion got poured back into the medical system. It would certainly help.

David Foote
Dunedin
Article published on Tuesday, March 4, 2014
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