On the heels of Republican efforts to repeal or defund the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, Americans are now facing the two specific options: Either to buy an insurance plan based on a state-operated insurance exchange or insurance marketplace, or face a tax penalty. Many are opting to pay the Affordable Care Act tax penalty rather than buy insurance out of some warped sense of political righteousness. I am also paying for the tax penalty, but for a much more basic reason: It is cheaper, and I have no other use for health care right now. Allow me to demonstrate.
I am likely to earn up to $19,000 this year, give or take few hundred. A small number, but hey, it's a living. I am 27, and live in the East Bay region of California. The State of California has already set up its insurance marketplace, known as Covered California. It has provided a handy calculator based on expenses. The results are shown below:
As you can see, the costs are not actually that bad, at least in theory. $42 per month for standard care seems reasonable. However, multiply that by 12, and you get $504. Compare that to the $190 I would have to pay in the tax penalty, and there is a $314 difference. Not much, but still significant when you think about someone in my pay grade.
(For the sake of being clear, here are the bronze plans. Yes, I could save even more money by just buying a Bronze plan, but the way people have explained the Bronze Plan, I feel less than compelled to purchase one, especially if I should use it, because it is probably more expensive overall)
Another problem that exists is that my medical needs do not really match with the insurance plans. Off the top of my head, I have one condition (assuming it is one and not just "I drink too much caffeine") that may require specialist care, some examination on my left shoulder, and maybe one screening to clarify things, but that is about it. My real medical needs are in the vision and dental department (I have not been to a dentist since 2007, I think). A big problem with the Affordable Care Act is that, unless you are a child, dental and vision do not have to be part of any insurance plan except as part of a related medical condition such as diabetes, and there are no tax credits for purchasing either. While insurance companies have not announced whether or not they will include dental or vision into their plans, it seems unlikely that they will do so, or even add it as an option with the insurance plan, even though that may invite people into buying plans (especially so-called Gold and Platinum plans).
In essence, I am likely not going to purchase an insurance plan in Covered California's insurance marketplace because it is not worth the value of the use I would put into it. I may be pushed to buy a Bronze plan, but I do not see a good reason to do so at the moment. I am not against this system entirely, because I know that the most reasonable way of reducing medical costs (cost controls on all essential medical services, and/or a public-private insurance system) is a dead fish in the political waters of Washington. I am also not against people my age buying insurance, especially since some of their needs are likely more than mine. It is just not my thing. I jam econo.