Obamacare: Taking Ownership Of The Working Poor

I realize that Democrats scoff about such people, but there are poor people who don’t want to receive free government services. They find ways they can afford to live and they make enough to live that way. Maybe at some point they will lose their income and need state assistance, but until that point is reached, they will pay their own way as best as they can afford.

What happens when the government prohibits these people, under penalty of law, from paying their own way, and instead forces them to receive “free” loot from the government? They get demoralized. They feel trapped—even captured.

Because they have been captured!

Everyone knows that the animals in captivity often cannot be put back in the wild  because they are no longer able to survive there. The free food and shelter has stripped them of their survival skills. They are owned.

Many human beings don’t like being owned.

In the Wall Street Journal today, Nicole Hopkins tells of the capturing of one of those humans, her mother. First, the government took away what she had.

In 2011, she had to give up her real-estate license; as a newer agent, she did not stand to earn enough in the tough market to justify the fees to renew. She has since managed to eke out a living as a substitute para-educator in the Central Kitsap School District. “I’m not on the couch, watching TV,” she said. “I’m out trying to find more work every day.”

Unable to secure employer-sponsored health care, she had, until this fall, chosen to pay $276 a month for bare-bones catastrophic coverage. “I think that we should be able to take care of ourselves and to earn enough money to pay for basics, and health insurance is one of them,” she told me. For two years she had paid out of pocket for that plan, but now she is being told that the plan isn’t good enough for her.

The Sept. 26 letter from my mother’s insurer promised that the more expensive plan “conforms with the new health care law”—by covering maternity needs, newborn wellness and pediatric dental care. My mother asked: “Do I need maternity care at 52?” In addition to requiring her to pay an extra $1,677 annually, the plan would have increased her deductible by $1,500.

So Hopkins’ mother went on the exchange to find other options. She was only given one: Medicaid.

Of course, Medicaid is not a new option for my mother; she knew that she was poor enough to qualify for cost-free health care. It was a deliberate choice on her part to pay that monthly $276 out of her own pocket. Clearly she had judged that she received a personal benefit from not being on Medicaid.

“I just don’t expect anything positive out of getting free health care,” she said. “I don’t see why other people should have to pay for my care, whether it be through taxes or otherwise.” In paying for health insurance herself—she won’t accept help from her family, either—she was safeguarding her dignity and independence and her sense of being a fully functioning member of society.

Before ObamaCare, Medicaid was one option. Not the option. Before this, she had never been, in effect, ordered to take a handout. Now she has been forced to join the government-reliant poor, though she would prefer to contribute her two mites. The authorities behind “affordable care” had erased her right to calculate what she was willing to spend to preserve her dignity—to determine what she thinks is affordable.

That little contribution can mean the difference between dignity and despair.

I suspect that when the White House staff reads this story they will consider stripping that woman of her dignity and moving her toward despair to be a design feature of the Affordable Care Act, rather than a bug.