Tucked up above 42nd Street in Times Square, situated next to advertisements for Ripley’s Believe It or Not and Madame Tussaud’s, is a new political message that feels out of place in a space touting the latest in fashion and entertainment.
The billboard, sponsored by the Heritage Foundation, is shaped like a federal tobacco disclaimer and warns New Yorkers about the dangers of Obamacare: “WARNING: Obamacare may be hazardous to your health”:
The message is just the latest political stunt from the organization that first developed the individual health care mandate in 1989 and later touted Obamacare-like reforms in Massachusetts. But this strategy is particularly obtuse. While premiums in the law’s soon-to-be opened health care exchanges have varied throughout the country, New Yorkers will experience savings of at least 50 percent as a result of Obamacare.
In 1993, the state prohibited insurers from denying coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions and required carriers to charge “all consumers the exact same rate.” But without mechanism to compel young and healthy people to enroll in insurance, premiums dramatically increased and enrollment in the individual market “steadily diminished.” Today, just 17,000 New Yorkers “buy insurance on their own.”
The health law’s mandate and the managed competition structure in the new exchanges will increase enrollment, state officials predict, and New Yorkers will see lower premiums when they enroll in one of 17 different insurance plans beginning in October. “An individual with annual income of $17,000 will pay about $55 a month for a silver plan, state regulators said. A person with a $20,000 income will pay about $85 a month for a silver plan, while someone earning $25,000 will pay about $145 a month for a silver plan.”
Ironically, the price drop comes as a result of a policy that the Foundation originally proposed, but is now furiously lobbying to repeal after it was included in President Obama’s health care law.