WSJ’s Taranto is not surprised that the uninsured do not like Obamacare

James Taranto explains for Wall Street Journal readers why he is not surprised to learn that a recent poll showed just 24 percent of uninsured individuals think Obamacare is a good idea. He starts his argument by addressing “a huge unwarranted assumption — to wit, that people without health insurance desire to have it.”

Some no doubt do, and lacked insurance because a pre-existing condition made them uninsurable in the pre-ObamaCare regime. But some lack insurance because they don’t want it, don’t feel they need it, are completely indifferent, or think it costs too much. What does ObamaCare do for them?

“To” them is more like it. It jacks up their premiums to pay for all the mandated coverages–especially if they’re young and healthy and thus least likely to think they need insurance to begin with. It then tells them that they must buy insurance, whether they want it or not. Imagine a law ordering everyone to buy a bicycle, or a periodic ration of meat. Even if the prices were deeply discounted, it would still be an unmitigated burden on noncyclists or vegetarians.

The U.S. Supreme Court held that the Congress exceeded its authority by “mandating” the purchase of health insurance, but it saved the law by construing the mandate as a tax on being uninsured. Being surprised that the uninsured would object to such a tax is like being surprised that yacht owners would object to George H.W. Bush’s luxury tax on yachts.

In short, what ObamaCare means to the uninsured who were not uninsurable is higher prices for a product they already were disinclined to buy, along with a punitive tax on not buying it. That seems more like a mugging than a benefit.

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