Obamacare Exemptions: Shouldn’t We All Have One?

October 15, 2013

Thanks to The Pueblo Chieftain for printing this guest piece by AFP-Colorado State Director Dustin Zvonek on Oct. 11.

Thanks to a $2 million taxpayer-funded propaganda effort, Coloradans are being inundated by ads urging us to sign-up for new health insurance plans as part of state exchanges established by President Obama’s signature law. What these ads fail to mention is the number of special interests –including some of the President’s closest allies– that don’t need to sign-up for this law because they’re exempt.

Members of Congress and their staff get a sweetheart deal. The hoi polloi restaurant owners in Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s San Francisco congressional district are exempt. And the entire State of Massachusetts is exempt as well. Then there are the big labor unions, who loved ObamaCare until they realized it meant the death of the forty hour work week. They, too, have been seeking an exemption.

These obviously aren’t the type of folks who typically oppose President Obama’s agenda; in fact they are the very people you’d expect to support the law. So the question is why are so many former ObamaCare supporters getting these special exemptions, when you and I are required to abide by the law – or pay a fine?

Just this past Sunday the New York Times – not exactly a Tea Party mouthpiece – admitted that “many insurers are significantly limiting the choices of doctors and hospitals available to consumers.” Soon many people will learn that their family doctor or local hospital isn’t included in their insurer’s new health care plans. The Wall Street Journal reports that many health insurers are planning to decrease the network of health care providers available to their customers because of the law’s cost-increasing effects.

But didn’t the President and his congressional allies promise that we would be able to keep our doctors?

If you’re not directly impacted by your health insurer’s new plans you will be impacted when your employer decides that health insurance is too costly and tosses everybody to the mercy of the state run exchange. The President’s cheerleaders must have been shocked senseless when the supposedly-progressive, employee-friendly Trader Joe’s announced that they would be cutting employee health care benefits. And Trader Joe’s is just the tip of the iceberg. Over 300 companies have dropped health care coverage, fired, or reduced employee hours in order to avoid providing employer sponsored health care coverage.

Not surprisingly, the loss of choice in health care options is not resulting in lower costs for most families and businesses. In fact, many Americans will likely begin seeing skyrocketing premiums for reduced quality and fewer options. The average health care consumer can expect to pay 31.5% in higher health insurance premiums according to the Society of Actuaries. In Colorado, a 27-year-old man can expect a 140% increase in the cost of health insurance premiums. Rising health care costs will only add to the challenges faced by many families and businesses, who are slowly rebuilding after weathering the drawn-out economic downturn.

Many members of Congress continue to assure American taxpayers that ObamaCare is good medicine and that it will make health care more affordable – after all it’s the “Affordable” Care Act, right? But we all know actions speak louder than carefully-spun speeches. President Obama once warned that health care could one day cost Americans one dollar for every five they earned. Unfortunately, he was right. And his health care plan is leading us in that direction.

Giving special exemptions to your friends so they can avoid what one former senator (and ObamaCare backer) famously described as a looming “train-wreak” is wrong. If it’s okay for the politically well-connected be exempt, isn’t it only fair for the rest of us to get an exemption too?

Maybe that’s the most reasonable and fair way to end the controversy over ObamaCare. Let’s give every American a personal exemption and grant those who really want government-run healthcare the option of opting-in.

Dustin is the Colorado State Director of Americans for Prosperity.

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