COMMENTARY | Charles and David Koch are conservative billionaires. They don’t like Obamacare. Since the GOP seems unable to end Obamacare before it begins, conservatives like the Koch brothers want to do the next “best” thing: Make it work so badly it breaks down and gets repealed. To effectively sabotage Obamacare, the Koch brothers have released a creepy ad campaign trying to convince young Americans, between the ages of 18 and 25, to go uninsured rather than sign up with Obamacare’s insurance exchanges, reports TIME. To work effectively, Obamacare needs close to three million young Americans to sign up for health insurance to offset the costs of older citizens who need more medical care.
If millenials don’t sign up, Obamacare costs rise too high.
But the Koch brothers’ creepy ad campaign, featuring a clownish caricature of Uncle Sam performing intimate medical exams, is a step too far. It is unconscionable. And, if it works, it spells a grim future for American politics and governance.
First of all, it is unconscionable for billionaires to try and manipulate the minds of young voters on issues as complex as medical care and health insurance. Sure, when you’re still a college undergrad and covered by Mom and Dad’s health insurance it’s easy to get swept up in the “keep Uncle Sam out of my __________” furor. You’re young, sheltered, and you’re likely to have yet to experience too many health maladies. It can be hard to wrap your mind around the idea of paying money every month in exchange for a big payout when you need it. Why not just save the money? you think. It’s not like I need to go see the doctor. What’s the worst that could happen?
Will the Koch brothers be there to pay when something happens? When that thing you didn’t think about does happen and you owe thousands of dollars in medical bills? Will the GOP have your back? No, they will wax eloquent on how you are obligated to pay. It is, after all, a free market and health care vendors deserve a healthy profit.
It doesn’t matter that, scared and in pain, you have far less clout than a big insurance company, or the federal government, to ensure that you receive good health care at a fair price. Hospitals and doctors, knowing you’re uninsured and desperate, can charge you a pretty penny for anything under the sun. If you think it’s unfair, can you hire a lawyer? You’re all of 25 years old, barely out of college, and you’re not exactly stocked with cash. Now you’ve got a bill with dozens of line items you don’t understand…and if you don’t pay your credit score is ruined and you can say goodbye to that nice house and good job you were looking forward to.
Obamacare may not be right but it’s downright wrong to prey on the young who will suffer in ways millionaire politicians and billionaire activists cannot understand if things go sideways.
Additionally, advocating citizen rejection of legislation that requires citizen buy-in is controversial at best. People who are following the law can be unfairly hurt when those who do not follow the law cripple the effectiveness of the legislation. Is it fair to allow wealthy activists to encourage breaking the law, such as by not signing up for health insurance and incurring a penalty, when those who do follow the law can be hurt by higher premiums resulting from too many lawbreakers?
Are the Koch brothers going to pay for my higher health insurance premiums after they help convince a million twentysomethings to eschew Obamacare, thus raising my rates? Would the Koch brothers smile as they paid higher taxes because I convinced a million twentysomethings to not pay, thus raising tax rates on the wealthy? I bet the billionaire brothers would suddenly be a lot less supportive of citizens not “buying in” to federal legislation…