I did the math—did you?—and anyone working full-time at minimum wage earns too much to qualify for expanded Medicaid. Burger-flippers will have to shell out for health insurance. Sure, they’ll get a subsidy, but it won’t cover the cost of required insurance. Marvin’s co-workers are gonna REALLY be starvin’! —Terry P.
For those playing along at home, Terry’s referring to last week’s Dr. Know, in which I told “Starvin’ Marvin Hamlisch” he’d get Medicaid/Oregon Health Plan coverage under the new healthcare reform law.
Terry, you get an A in math, but an F in reading: Marvin’s question specifically mentioned he was at the poverty line. (It’s hardly unusual for service workers to work fewer than 40 hours a week.)
But your concern is legitimate: What happens in 2014 to folks who make more than 133 percent of the federal poverty level but are still pretty damn poor? Let’s say you’re pulling down—oh, I don’t know—$18K a year (a figure with which I am somewhat familiar).
You may have heard your individual contribution for health insurance is capped at 8 percent of your income. For Mr. Big-pimpin’ $18K, that’s $120 a month, which wouldn’t be bad for full coverage. But you’d actually pay less. According to Oregon Department of Human Services’ Sean Kolmer, your contribution will be on a sliding scale by income that runs between 133 percent of poverty and 400 percent.
So, broke-ass journalists/musicians/douchebags who are hanging out at around 140 percent of poverty level are only on the hook for about 2.5 percent of income, or $37.50 a month. That’s less than one month of Internet access, five packs of guitar strings or two bags of crystal meth. If you’re not willing to come up with about $1.25 a day for health insurance, you’re just being churlish. My suggestion? Lay off the meth—you won’t break so many strings.