May 23 2013
Young Man: Uncle Sam Wants YOU...Or At Least Your Wallet
Carrie L. Lukas
Baseball fans and Maxim readers be warned: You are about to be manipulated. Advertisers selling cars, new tech toys, and beer aren’t alone in wanting your attention and money. The government is after you too. They aren’t just trying to entice you into the military, “the hardest job you’ll ever love.” No, they want to enlist you as a soldier in the greatest big government crusade of our time: ObamaCare.
Even the architects of the health care law known as ObamaCare have been warning that implementation could become a “train wreck.” Just how much of a train wreck largely depends on young men. As the President’s former health care advisor, Ezekiel Emanuel recently explained in the Wall Street Journal, sufficient numbers of young men—healthy, low-cost costumers—must buy health insurance through the government exchanges or premiums will soar.
Here’s the challenge for Uncle Sam-the-salesman: ObamaCare makes insurance policies a bad deal for most young men, so they have to be convinced to make a mostly economically-foolish decision. Provisions in ObamaCare empower the Department of Health and Human Services to dictate what services health insurance policies must cover to be considered sufficient from the government’s perspective. Covering all these additional services (including many services that young men will never use) is costly for insurance companies, and they pass those costs on to customers through higher premiums.
ObamaCare also limits insurers’ ability to offer premiums based on an individual’s expected costs, which is more bad news for healthy young men. Typically, insurance companies use customers’ characteristics, such as their age, gender, health status, and history, when determining how much to charge them. If an insurer expects you to cost them more in payouts, they charge you more for coverage. Because young male drivers have a propensity to drive fast and damage cars, they generally have to pay more for auto insurance. Smokers pay more for life insurance. ObamaCare stifles this practice, which shifts costs from those who use a lot of health care—the old and the sick, in particular, but also women of child-bearing age—to those who don’t: namely, young, healthy men.
The Administration sold these restrictions as the foundation of a compassionate society. After all, we all want to do something to help those with pre-existing conditions and those who face exorbitant health care costs. Yet the Administration was less forthcoming about who will pay for all this shared compassion. Now young Americans, particularly young men—most of whom aren’t exactly in that much-ballyhooed top one percent—are finding out they are being stuck with a big part of an extremely expensive bill.
Dr. Emanuel believes the President, a popular figure with Millenials, will be able to overcome the inherent weakness of the over-priced insurance product by appealing to twenty-something men’s sense of duty. Dr. Emanuel wants the President to use advertising in male-dominated mediums to make the case that young men need to hold up their end of the social contract and help cement the President’s legacy.
Yet the President may find that many young men have had enough with a so-called social contract that seems to always entail them sacrificing for someone else’s benefit. After all, ObamaCare is just the latest law to require young Americans to subsidize their elders. Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid all depend on transfer payments from young to old. Given that these programs face trillion-dollar unfunded liabilities, young Americans know their bills will grow during their working lives, and their benefits will likely shrink when they reach their own retirement. And of course, these young Americans know that a growing portion of their taxes will go toward paying interest on an ever-growing national debt, much of which was before they could even vote.
Young men also have reason to feel shafted by society more generally. Having been encouraged by parents, government officials, and just about every authority figure to invest in a college-education, millions of new grads are today jobless and burdened with hefty student loans. They regularly hear adult hand-wringing about young, video-game-playing men’s failure to launch. While there’s truth to this criticism, many can rightfully retort, launch into what? This dead-end job market? Into the dream of marriage, family, and a house they can’t afford?
Young men are used to being asked to sacrifice for their country. Yet when it comes to trying to shoulder the ObamaCare monstrosity, many young men today may say it’s time to shrug.