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October 14, 2013

"It's Not Cheating. It's Allowed"

Intentionally not working as many hours so you can sponge off harder working taxpayers, that is:

People whose 2014 income will be a little too high to get subsidized health insurance from Covered California next year should start thinking now about ways to lower it to increase their odds of getting the valuable tax subsidy.

"If they can adjust (their income), they should," says Karen Pollitz, a senior fellow with the Kaiser Family Foundation. "It's not cheating, it's allowed."

Under the Affordable Care Act, if your 2014 income is between 138 and 400 percent of poverty level for your household size, you can purchase health insurance on a state-run exchange (such as Covered California) and receive a federal tax subsidy to offset all or part of your premium.

If your income falls below 138 percent of poverty, you qualify for Medicaid, which provides no-cost health care to low-income people. In California, it's called Medi-Cal.

Only chumps work hard and take pride in pulling their own weight. Why exert yourself when you can kick back and let someone else pay your way through life?

And don't worry about those even less fortunate than you are. You have no duty to help them - put the oxygen mask over your own face first!

Now *that's* a change Americans can believe in.

Posted by Cassandra at October 14, 2013 09:18 AM

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Comments

Well, I'd suppose I ought to be indignant. But all those commercials I hear on right-wing radio programs informing listeners how they can "get relief" from their back taxes(CALL 1-800-DEDBEAT TODAY!) makes me think that shirking personal responsibility is an equal-opportunity opportunity in America today.

Posted by: spd rdr at October 14, 2013 12:48 PM

This article is about trying to get below the 400% level. I think the other interesting balancing act is going to be at the low end: trying to get as close as possible to the 138% of poverty level (so as to qualify for the greatest possible subsidy) but not slip below it (and end up with Medicaid as the only "subsidized"option). Perhaps the people who don't want to work in December (so as to stay below the 400% level) can be swapped out with people who do want to work in December (so as to get just barely above the 138% level).

Posted by: Elise at October 14, 2013 01:09 PM

If we can make that swap permanent, I'd go for it. Cause I have a feeling those who have been looking for a job and not found one would gladly take an income over 400% of the so-called, government-defined poverty* level.

*- can anybody seriously claim they live in poverty if they have any, some or all of the following: a roof over their head, food in the fridge and cabinets, a cell phone, a car, a flat-screen tv w/cable or satellite service, air conditioning, internet service, the latest fashions or sport shoes, etc.?
I've lived in poverty. I've been homeless with nothing but the clothes on my back and my dog. These people who "think" they are poor or living in poverty need to go to the bank, cause they got another *think* coming.

Posted by: DL Sly at October 14, 2013 02:13 PM

I'd suppose I ought to be indignant. But all those commercials I hear on right-wing radio programs informing listeners how they can "get relief" from their back taxes(CALL 1-800-DEDBEAT TODAY!) makes me think that shirking personal responsibility is an equal-opportunity opportunity in America today.

I haven't heard the tax avoidance ads, but my favorite has to be the borderline pornographic ads in the sidebars of conservative blogs whose authors continually fulminate about the good old days before Feminism made women shameless and immodest :p

I'm going to go way out on a limb and say that if the advertising messages you're making money from are 180 degrees out from the values you preach to others, you probably have no business lecturing anyone about their lack of ideological purity :p

But what do I know? I too thick headed to have my own Amazon sponsorship (or whatever the heck those "mention me when you order...." thingies is.

Posted by: Cass at October 14, 2013 02:50 PM

I've lived in poverty. I've been homeless with nothing but the clothes on my back and my dog.

You know, we were well below the federal poverty level the first two years we were married and I can't honestly say we've ever been poor (this has nothing to do with your comment, except that it made me think about what it means to be poor).

In my mind, if you have a roof over your head and you can afford to buy food, you're nowhere near "poor". And I've never lacked those things. Ever.

Yet according to the federal government, we were "poor". Unbelievable. I'm not even sure they know what that word means.

Posted by: Cass at October 14, 2013 02:53 PM

"In my mind, if you have a roof over your head and you can afford to buy food, you're nowhere near "poor"."

Only in America. Granted, it makes sense that the richest country in the world also has the richest *poor*. Maybe we should also have someone follow us, as Ceasar did, and remind us, "Thou art not poor."

"(this has nothing to do with your comment, except that it made me think about what it means to be poor)."

I know. I just have the fortunate experience to know what it's like to really be poor and homeless. It gives one a slightly different point of view on a great many things. One of which is the ability to be able to see all that I have been blessed with and appreciate them (hopefully) even more.
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at October 14, 2013 03:42 PM

I haven't been able to read this specific article yet, but if making a few dollars less a year means you aren't hit with thousands more in health insurance expenditures, I can see why people would do it. I just thank God that (for now, at least), I still have employer-provided coverage, though we haven't seen the new premiums for 2014 yet.

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 14, 2013 08:56 PM

Of course, another option for married couples is to divorce, so their incomes are viewed separately, not pooled together...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at October 14, 2013 09:21 PM

Of course, another option for married couples is to divorce, so their incomes are viewed separately, not pooled together...

But then I'd have to give my $40 a week allowance!

Posted by: spd rdr at October 15, 2013 09:53 AM

if making a few dollars less a year means you aren't hit with thousands more in health insurance expenditures, I can see why people would do it

I found a calculator from Kaiser that claims to give at least a ballpark estimate of what premiums and subsidies will look like for Silver level plans. For a hypothetical (cough) 60-year-old New Jerseyan, the premium is $8,093. When checking various income levels, I found that:

If I enter my income as $46,000, my subsidy is $0; I pay $8,093.

If I enter my income as $45,000, my subsidy is $3,818; I pay $4,275. Making $1000 less saves me almost $4000 in health insurance costs.

Or, to put it another way, If I take that $1000 raise from $45,000 to $46,000, I lose that $4,275 subsidy. After my pay raise, I'm down $3,275.

I've run other income numbers and the other big discontinuity is at the low end: at some point I become too poor to get a subsidy and must either go into Medicaid (if that's an option for me) or buy unsubsidized coverage through the exchanges. (Interestingly, once I get poor enough I can buy catastrophic-ish coverage through the exchanges.) I've got a post up showing those scenarios. The Kaiser calculator is here:

http://kff.org/interactive/subsidy-calculator/

The Patterico post I link claims the discontinuities are much less for younger people; I haven't run those numbers to check that out. And, of course, it's always possible the Kaiser calculator is wrong. That kind of huge discontinuity seems awfully dumb, even for Obamacare.

Posted by: Elise at October 15, 2013 12:08 PM

Oops. Got that backwards. Should read:

Or, to put it another way, If I take that $1000 raise from $45,000 to $46,000, I lose that $3,818 subsidy. After my pay raise, I'm down $2,818.

Posted by: Elise at October 15, 2013 12:09 PM

Or, to put it another way, If I take that $1000 raise from $45,000 to $46,000, I lose that $3,818 subsidy. After my pay raise, I'm down $2,818.

But you will feel better about yourself, Elise.
That's the magic and promise that is Obama!

Posted by: spd rdr at October 15, 2013 04:20 PM

But you will feel better about yourself, Elise.

[Slaps forehead] Of course! How could I forget? Thanks, spd.

Posted by: Elise at October 16, 2013 11:25 AM