The GOP health care bill is getting mixed reviews, even from Republicans. And it’s clear that it is far from a conservative dream ticket. At best, it’s an improvement on Obamacare.
And some of the concerns raised about the GOP bill – including from the left – are legitimate. For one, we should question whether this bill will truly bend the cost curve, which ultimately requires removing the tax deduction on employer/self-employed health care plans.
Yet not all arguments are equal. And unfortunately, some liberals are once again making a particularly idiotic suggestion in their opposition to the GOP bill. This suggestion being that the bill is unfair to the sick and the elderly. They lament that the GOP bill’s altering of Obamacare’s cost-ratio cap on insurance premiums will make older Americans pay more. Under Obamacare, older Americans can be charged only 300% of the average plan for younger Americans. The GOP bill proposes to change that ratio to 500%.
But far from immoral, this proposed change is both economically and socially just. First off, the Obamacare ratio is grossly unrepresentative of the costs incurred in our health care system. Older Americans understandably need more health care. But while any effective – and moral – insurance system has to offset those costs in some way (only the richest seniors could pay for their full point of service health costs), today, the youngest Americans are bearing too much of the burden.
And when we enter Medicare and Social Security into the morality equation, things become even more unfair. That’s because Medicare is near bankruptcy. In part, that’s because Medicare provides the main health care consuming demographic – older Americans – with far more than they paid into the system. As of 2015, over their lifetime, the average new Medicare recipient will receive three times the value of services that they paid in Medicare taxes! That’s hundreds of thousands of dollars per individual.
Guess who is paying for it?
We, the millennials, and our younger brothers and sisters are. We are paying for it because, apart from Speaker Paul Ryan, the Simpson-Bowles commission, and a few others, politicians lack the resolve to reform entitlements and thus balance the budget. So each year, as Medicare outlays increase, the government borrows more and more to pay those bills. And that borrowing adds to our $19 billion debt. And a hefty interest payment on that debt. We’re going to have to pay off that debt obligation sooner or later. If we don’t, we’ll become a failed state. But whatever we do to fix Medicare and Social Security, the vast majority of experts believe that the millennial generation will receive fewer benefits than our parents.
That speaks to the ultimate concern here: the morality of personal responsibility in society. After all, if young Americans are earning less but also having to spend money to pursue education or home ownership, or just pay bills, why should we also carry the vast burden of bad policy choices?
Millennials have had a very limited say – we haven’t been able to vote in many elections that shaped spending policy – in what our government looks like. Nor have we had a say in the diet, exercise and other health habits of our elders. Those who ate too much cake and got diabetes should have to face up to their choices. We, younger Americans, should help ensure that the old and the poor receive good care. But we should not have to carry the weight alone.