Incentives Matter: ObamaCare Edition

Merrill Matthews has a great post on today about some “surprising” developments in response to the ObamaCare health insurance debacle. In short:

1. (Not really news) The cost of most health insurance programs for young and/or healthy individuals is predicted to increase dramatically to cover the costs of coverage imposed by the law…to the point that many will have no incentive to purchase the coverage until they actually need its benefits (i.e., a perverse incentive created by prohibiting exemptions on pre-existing conditions which, ironically, also drives up the cost of the insurance to begin with).

2. (Somewhat news) Since the IRS has no authority to proactively collect the fine/tax/penalty from people who refuse to buy insurance and can only withhold tax refund payments, smart taxpayers who opt out of health insurance will simply make sure they have no tax refunds coming by adjusting their withholdings accordingly–and pay little or no fine. If taxpayers start using this loophole in earnest, expect Democrats to attempt to pass legislation allowing the IRS to start beaming money directly out of your checkbook or seizing assets to pay for the non-tax-fine-“no, it’s a tax” penalty.

3. (A truly entrepreneurial twist!) Some life insurance companies, which are not affected by ObamaCare, have begun offering policies that allow policyholders to receive pre-demise benefits from their life insurance for “critical illness” expenses. Kind of a “getting-close-to-possibly-dying” rider to the traditional life insurance policy. Beneficiaries can use the advanced payments to cover the medical bills (if they want) and the death benefit is reduced by the amount of the payment. Truly ingenious…exactly the kind of creative, market-driven genius that has fueled the American economy since before there was an American economy.

Matthews summarizes it quite well in a way that captures what this blog is all about:

See, that’s the amazing thing about markets.  They try to meet the needs of consumers rather than the wants and political aspirations of politicians.  And sometimes they can even undermine those political aspirations.

2 thoughts on “Incentives Matter: ObamaCare Edition

    • That’s a good question. It would probably take a pretty substantial effort, since life insurance policies are regulated primarily at the state level. Of course, so had been health insurance prior to ObamaCare.