In a recent column, Johah Goldberg admonishes young Obama supporters to sign up for Obamacare. In some cases, Mr. Goldberg will get his wish, as for people with pre-existing conditions, Obamacare is their only option. Of course, and perhaps to Mr. Goldberg’s chagrin, this will change in 2014 when insurers will have to cover people with pre-existing conditions. But concern that sick people receive healthcare was not Mr. Goldberg’s point. That would be out of character.
Instead, Mr. Goldberg seems to believe he’s making a profound mathematical argument against Obamacare: that the price of a premium under Obamacare is greater than the price of a premium from a private health insurer.
In other words, Mr. Goldberg asserts:
Obamacare premium > Private insurance premium
Mr. Goldberg has already provided the math on the Obamacare side of the equation, using the Kaiser Family Foundation’s subsidy calculator to determine the insurance rate for a 26-year old non-smoker under Obamacare, which happens to be $2,512 per year. (Oddly, he seems to deride the notion that smokers should pay more than non-smokers).
What’s missing is the number for private insurance. Fortunately, the Kaiser Family Foundation has that info also: $5,668 annually for an individual HMO plan. Now, most people can eyeball these numbers, and determine that the premium for Obamacare is actually ~less~ than the average individual premium for a private HMO. But what if you’re someone like Mr. Goldberg, to whom this numerical relationship is not obvious?
Fortunately, there is a web site for remedial elementary school students that helps them grasp the concepts of “less than” and “greater than”. Just to make sure that I was right, I entered the numbers into TutorVista's Less Than Greater Than Calculator. Sure enough, the calculator confirmed my intuiton that... that $2,512 < $5,668:
This must come as quite a shock to the innumerate Mr. Goldberg! But forget about these fictional 26-year olds. Who cares about them? If I’m going to look at healthcare from a conservative perspective, the only thing that matters is me, and my wallet, right? So what does Obamacare look like for a 47-yr. old dufus like me with pre-existing conditions?
My annual premium in 2012 was $8,652. If I use the same calculator that Mr. Goldberg uses for our 26-year old, my annual premiums under Obamacare would be $4,717. I wonder which is less? Obamacare or private insurance? $4,717 or $8,652? Once again, TutorVista to the rescue!
Well, wouldn't you know it?! Obamacare wins again. By thousands of dollars. But I won't do that math on the difference I'll save, as I'm not certain Mr. Goldberg could comprehend it.
I join Mr. Goldberg in his admonishments to young people to sign up for Obamacare. In fact, I encourage all people to sign up for Obamacare, as in many cases, it will cost less than a comparable private plan. And Republicans know this. That’s why they’re furiously fighting against it. As Tom Daschle famously said:
"Let me tell you something, if Democrats take the White House and pass a big-government healthcare plan, that's it. Game over. Government will dominate the economy like it does in Europe. Conservatives will spend the rest of their lives trying to turn things around and they will fail."There's a reason Jonah Goldberg is the only conservative you will see encouraging people to try Obamacare. And, I fear that is due to insufferable innumeracy.