The New York Times and the ACA: the yuppie whine-athon continues

I see the New York Times has published yet another article about very privileged people whining about the ACA.

In this case, said article features a couple making $100,000 a year who, under the ACA, will be paying $1,000 a month for health care covering themselves and their two sons. Take it away, Dean Baker:

Here they are with a front page story telling us about the tragic situation of the Chapmans, a New Hampshire couple making $100,000 a year who will have to spend $1,000 a month for insurance with Obamacare. This would come to 12 percent of their income. The piece tells readers:

“Experts consider health insurance unaffordable once it exceeds 10 percent of annual income.”

That’s interesting. If we go to the Kaiser Family Foundation website we find that the average employee contribution for an employer provided family plan is $4,240. The average employer contribution is $11,240. That gives us a total of $15,470. Most economists would say that we should treat the employers payment as a cost to the worker since in general employers are no more happy to pay money to health insurance companies than to their workers. If they didn’t pay this money as health insurance then they would be paying it to their workers in wages.

A couple of years ago, when my ex-husband and I were paying for health insurance under COBRA, we were shelling out something like $1,200 a month for just the two of us — and we were making far less than 100K a year. In fact, we were earning more like half that.

Enough already. In the real world we live in, $1,000 a month for good health insurance for a family of four in the top quintile of U.S. household income is pretty damn good. Upper middle class people, quitcher whining already — and New York Times, please stop enabling this nonsense.

UPDATE: Atrios notes:

And, yes, Obamacare isn’t perfect and the subsidies aren’t generous enough. But here are the options to make it better: 1) Nationalize the health care system (or much of it) as the NHS was, at least before the Tories started wrecking it. 2) Have a single payer insurance system in which the government doesn’t run the medical system, but essentially sets the rates (and is empowered to do so). 3) Increase the subsidies in Obamacare, so that the not-quite-rich-enough also have taxpayers pay for at least part of their insurance bill, and the insurance companies can continue to take their pointless cut.

1) and 2) will help to control actual costs if done right, while 3) will just spread it around differently.

Single payer is a great idea and I hope we get there eventually. But politically, that will be a very heavy lift. For now, the ACA does represent a substantial improvement in the status quo. Obamacare has already provided health coverage for nearly four million Americans who lacked such coverage before. In addition, many Americans will be paying lower rates than previously, and others who were uninsurable because of pre-existing conditions or lifetime caps will now find coverage.

The ACA will create many more winners than losers. And the losers’ problems — having to pay a bit more for health insurance, perhaps not having access to their preferred doctors (the kinds of things that were happening in the health insurance market all the time, anyway) — are trivial compared to the winners’ gains of going from no health insurance at all to, hallelujah!, full service health care. But the winners tend to be downscale economically — not the demographic the media wants to suck up to for the sake of advertising dollars. And so we get the kind of profoundly irritating media coverage we’re seeing in the Times and elsewhere.

Where are all the articles about people who died because they didn’t have health insurance?

Kathleen Geier

Kathleen Geier is a writer and public policy researcher who lives in Chicago. She blogs at Inequality Matters. Find her on Twitter: @Kathy_Gee