On Thursday, the New York Times editorial staff defended the delay of the Obamacare employer insurance mandate. The continued failure of this law to be effectively implemented shows how unwieldy and unworkable it is, yet the Times defends it without blinking.
That’s not all the editorial did – it also misled in several ways. Consider the following:
The editorial says the Administration delayed the mandate “to give employers another year before they will be required to make available affordable insurance to their workers or pay a fine.” The assumption that “affordable insurance” will be provided through the mandate ignores that Obamacare will foist a fine on employers for two reasons. The first is if insurance plans are more expensive than bureaucratic preferences, which is what the Times addresses. The second, ignored reason for a fine is if employer-based plans don’t insure as much as the bureaucrats want. This latter market distortion especially discriminates against people who typically require less coverage – young, healthy Americans.
In other words, coverage might be affordable, but the government’s requirements on levels of coverage will require a fine anyway. This creates an unworkable conflict of interest – fines for plans that are too expensive, but also for plans that are too cheap.
The editorial also says those not covered by employers in 2014 “will not be left in the lurch.” The editorial claims “most will be able to buy policies on the health care exchanges that will open on January 1, 2014.” This claim is made despite widespread knowledge that these exchanges are behind schedule, and the House GOP’s back-door approach to repealing Obamacare is having an impact on various aspects of the law’s infrastructure.
Furthermore, in the same paragraph, the editorial says employers “who might offer a plan, but refuse to help employees pay for it” are “parsimonious.” Clearly, the editorial staff at the Times doesn’t know much about the average cost of employer-based health insurance – according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 7.8% of TOTAL compensation (total compensation being defined as pay plus benefits) in March 2013 – and net profit margins at 7.6%, according to The Washington Post.
Thus, the editorial ignores how employer-based health insurance costs businesses more than they profit – and that is before the employer mandate kicks in. Since the mandate aims to increase these costs, it seems the editorial staff is confusing “parsimonious” with “being knowledgeable about the need to make a profit to stay in business.”
Perhaps most misleadingly, the editorial somehow fails to mention the electoral implications of delaying the mandate’s impact on America’s struggling economy. Furthermore, there is no mention of how delaying the employer mandate is a response to favored business interests, all the while leaving the mandate on individuals, who do not have lobbyists in the Beltway, in place.
Finally, the editorial says about the law that “[i]t is more important to do this right than to do it quickly.” Given that the law was passed in March 2010, three years is plenty of time to “do this right.” Besides, the Administration is not pushing off the mandate to “do this right.” It simply wants to avoid another midterm shellacking in the 2014 elections by having consumers and workers see the mandate’s harm before they go to the voting booth.