A few years ago, my insurance agent sent me a quote for new health insurance. At the time, I smoked cigarettes but the insurance agent screwed up and sent me a quote for non-smokers. When I finally got the quote for 57-year-old smokers, I did a little math and figured out that my occasional nicotine rush was costing me $10/smoke.
I mean, there's "ouch" and then there's "really, really, really ouch." This was that.
So, as much as I enjoyed that occasional cigarette, I gave it up. I haven't smoked for two years and, yes, of course I feel better, not to mention richer. But it would still be nice to occasionally finish off a night of whiskey drinking with half a pack of Marlboro Lights spewing forth the what-feels-like wisdom that I can only conjure with a lit cigarette between my fingers. But, for $10 a pop, no can do.
However, help is on the way. Obamacare is gonna make it all better again.
One of the nice sounding parts of the Affordable Health Care Act is the rule requiring that the most expensive policy that an insurance company sells to high risk people, like us lazy old overweight smokers, can cost no more than three times as much as the cheapest policy they sell to those nice young clean-living triathletes in Boulder. So, starting next year, it's not gonna matter whether I smoke or not because, like every other baby boomer, my personal insurance rating is going to max out at "Almost 60-year-old Old Impending Train Wreck."
Of course, my newfound freedom to ruin my health at no personal cost did not just fall from the heavens thanks to an act of Congress. Somebody has to pick up the tab for my health care while I struggle with emphysema or a long bout with lung cancer. That's where the Youth of America comes in. Your insurance rates will go up to keep my insurance rates down. All of you young healthy people will soon be paying more for your health insurance to subsidize mine. Really.
Do I think this is fair? I have two kids and three grandkids who will, over the course of their lives, pay more for health insurance to subsidize the bad habits of people like me. That's not fair. And, people like me will no longer be forced to pay for the bad decisions they make that will consume health care resources and shorten their lives. That's not fair, and it's dumb, too.
It's election time. Beware of politicians making promises about all the ways government is going to solve all your problems. Somebody, sometime has to pay for these goodies and guess who it's usually going to be? Hint: us baby boomers love free lunches.