Deceiving the Young – by Rich Trzupek

Rich Trzupek is a veteran environmental consultant and senior advisor to the Heartland Institute. He is the author of the new book Regulators Gone Wild: How the EPA is Ruining American Industry (Encounter Books).


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The self-styled “non-partisan” website Rock the Vote recently chimed in on the health care debate, with a video that urges young women to avoid engaging in sexual intercourse with any lad who fails to support Obamacare. Actors Eva Amurri (“Californication”) and Zach Gilford (“Friday Night Lights”) delivered the pitch in a two-minute short.

At one point in the video, Gilford declares:

“Americans between the ages of eighteen and twenty-nine are the most uninsured group in the country.”

The implication is that the health care bill will solve this supposed inequity. In fact, as many observers have noted, the result is likely to be the opposite. The health care bill creates an incentive for more young Americans to stay uninsured, by removing the free-market constraints that would force them to consider risk. Obamacare would thus push the costs of health care even higher. It’s a bill that appears designed to paralyze the system and to drive up premiums so dramatically that the “public option” will become the only viable option.

Both the House and Senate versions of the bill provide for a tax of up to $750 per person to be levied against anyone who fails to purchase insurance. As anyone who has purchased insurance knows, this is much less than the annual cost of insurance premiums for even modest coverage. Another provision of the bill says that no one can be denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition. Combined, these two provisions create a tempting incentive for many healthy young people to avoid paying for insurance until they absolutely need it. Healthy young people are obviously much less likely to need insurance than their older fellow citizens, so why bother to pay for coverage until one actually needs it?

The one incentive that might deflect a healthy young person from such a strategy – the risk associated with not being part of an insurance program when disaster strikes – is effectively eliminated by the health care bill. If you get sick, you get coverage. Why enroll beforehand? This appears to be a recipe for disaster.

We’ve been down this road before. When government forces the free-market to take on risk that it doesn’t want, and isn’t allowed to properly value, the results are not pretty. The housing bubble grew and exploded as a result of this kind of interference.

One insurance company executive glumly assured me that premiums will rise by a minimum of two hundred percent in the first year of Obamacare, and by more than one thousand percent by 2020. Without all of those healthy young kids to dilute premiums for the rest of us, carriers will have no choice but to pass along the attendant risk.

That formula is clearly unsustainable. Americans will not stand for, and cannot afford to pay insurance premiums that are ten times higher than those they pay today. There can be only one answer at that point. Liberals will declare that they tried their best to fix private sector health care, but there is even more greed in the free market than they imagined. How else can one explain a jump in insurance premiums by an order of magnitude?

The only option remaining will be to cede responsibility for health care to a benevolent government. We will thus jump past the public option to the public necessity and, by doing so, we will give the government, and more important, the party of government, control over six per cent of the United States economy.

If signed into law, the health care bill may face some difficult legal challenges. Whatever the result of those constitutional debates, the economic realities inherent in the bill, should it remain in effect for any significant period of time, might just make socialized medicine in the United States a fait accompli.

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