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Does Obamacare 'tax the poor'?


By Homeboy   Follow   Tue, 19 Mar 2013, 6:00am PDT   1,214 views   57 comments
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In zzyzzx's travesty of a thread, I asked a simple question.

"Which tax, specifically, is levied on the middle class or the poor?"

Since he methodically deleted all my posts dealing with this subject, I decided to start a new thread, so that ideas can be freely exchanged (hopefully).

Here was his original response:

Loads of new taxes levied on everyone. Didn't you read the article?

For example:
2.3% excise tax on medical devices
Limit FSAs in cafeteria plans
Impose limitations on the use of HSAs, FSAs, HRAs, and Archer MSAs to purchase over-the-counter medicines
Impose 10% tax on tanning services
Employer W-2 reporting of value of health benefits
Annual tax on drug manufacturers/importers (which means higher prices for everyone)

Now my question is, which one of those, SPECIFICALLY, is a "tax on the poor"?

Medical device tax? No, that's a tax on the MANUFACTURER. The companies that manufacture medical devices are not poor.

Health savings account tax? No, the poor will actually receive subsidies for health insurance under Obamacare. They will have no need for health savings accounts.

10% tax on tanning services? No, poor people don't generally go to tanning salons. If they choose to spend their money that way, I'm hardly going to feel sorry for them if they have to pay 10% more.

Employer W2 reporting? I have no idea how this would be considered a tax on the poor. Perhaps someone can enlighten us?

Annual tax on drug manufacturers/importers? No, this is self explanatory. It's a tax on Big Pharma, not on the working poor.

I welcome any intelligent argument on this subject, although I rather doubt there will be any.

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Homeboy   Fri, 22 Mar 2013, 5:01am PDT   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike (1)     Comment 18

Paralithodes says

Let's see if you do...

You are probably correct in that the law does not very specifically impose a direct "tax" on the "poor." It probably does not have anywhere within its writings, something that says anyone with an income below what is considered "poor" must pay % or $ in tax.

Like I said, intelligent arguments will remain. Unintelligible nonsense will be deleted. Zzyzzx has a habit of leaving the drivel and deleting the poignant arguments. I am doing the opposite.

Although I see your point that merely saying the poor are not taxed is specious IF the poor are worse off than they were before. But that is not the case. I am not simply making a semantic argument here. I am saying the poor will be much better off with regard to their ability to get affordable medical care.

What I think is specious is the right wing's hysterical wailing about "new taxes". Those who drafted the legislation decided to make sure it was funded so as not to add to the deficit. For that reason, it was necessary to impose some taxes. But the taxes are all borne by those who can well afford it.

Homeboy   Fri, 22 Mar 2013, 5:04am PDT   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike (1)     Comment 19

Zzyzzyx? Bueller?

Paralithodes   Sun, 24 Mar 2013, 10:33pm PDT   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 20

Homeboy says

Do you really deny that the major manufacturers of medical devices are already making exorbitant profits? They have ALREADY been raising prices. If they continue to do so, how is that a result of Obamacare?

What do you consider "exorbitant profits?" What are the typical net profit margins for "major manufacturers" of medical devices?

What about all of the very many small manufacturers of medical devices hit by this excise tax? Do all of them make "exorbitant" profits? What about start-ups? Do you really deny that the larger manufacturers are going to raise prices (how do you know this?) and do you deny that if they don't, that actually puts them in a better competitive position vis-a-vis the smaller business with slim profit margines who will have to raise prices just to stay alive? (Why is it that those on the left always rail against large business, but support so many policies - often supported by the large businesses themselves - that make it easier for them to entrench themselves and harder for small businesses?). Do you know any small business owners who will be negatively impacted by this - whereby this directly impacts their ability to compete with the big boys?

Homeboy says

Do you deny that people who previously were denied insurance will be able to get it starting in 2014, due to the "guaranteed issue" provision, and thus will have coverage for necessary medical devices?

No. Does this mean that manufacturers will or will not raise prices?

Homeboy says

Do you deny that there is a retail exemption for medical devices that are purchased directly by the consumer?

No. I do not deny this. Eye glasses, contact lenses, and the like, which someone can already purchase over the counter should not be affected. HOWEVER, with the removal and/or restrictions on HSA's, these items certainly may cost more for many lower-to-middle class consumers. Do you deny that?

And what is your point? Is this really the crux of the health care cost issue - individual retail items? Do you really deny that sutures, stents, dialysis supplies, IV bags, etc., that are crucial to delivery of "health care" and are NOT retail items in an aisle in a grocery store or CVS are a major cost component, and WILL be affected by this?

Homeboy says

Do you deny that the increased number of people with medical coverage will give more business to the medical device manufacturers, and that this windfall benefit will offset the negatives of the tax?

I can neither confirm nor deny this. Neither can you. How many additional devices would have to be sold by a particular company's product line to make up for just the extra tax on ONE device, to bring it to relative parity with the concept before Obamacare of paying tax just on the device's profit? I don't know. It would depend quite a bit on the device's existing profit margin, the projected increase in its sales, etc. Certainly for a small company or a startup with a very slim profit margin, a great increase in sales, without an increase in price, could be meaningless and in some cases detrimental.

Paralithodes   Sun, 24 Mar 2013, 10:37pm PDT   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 21

Homeboy says

What I think is specious is the right wing's hysterical wailing about "new taxes". Those who drafted the legislation decided to make sure it was funded so as not to add to the deficit. For that reason, it was necessary to impose some taxes. But the taxes are all borne by those who can well afford it.

Things like the medical expense deduction will be borne by the middle class, not the wealthy. So who do you think can "well afford it?" Who do you really think is paying for this?

zzyzzx   Mon, 25 Mar 2013, 12:17am PDT   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 22

Homeboy says

10% tax on tanning services? No, poor people don't generally go to tanning salons. If they choose to spend their money that way, I'm hardly going to feel sorry for them if they have to pay 10% more.

If they do go to tanning booths, then they will be subject to this tax yes.

zzyzzx   Mon, 25 Mar 2013, 12:17am PDT   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 23

Homeboy says

Medical device tax? No, that's a tax on the MANUFACTURER. The companies that manufacture medical devices are not poor.

Which will be passed along to the consumers. All of them, irregardless of income levels.

zzyzzx   Mon, 25 Mar 2013, 12:18am PDT   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 24

Homeboy says

Annual tax on drug manufacturers/importers? No, this is self explanatory. It's a tax on Big Pharma, not on the working poor.

Also passed along to all consumers, irregardless of income level.

zzyzzx   Mon, 25 Mar 2013, 12:19am PDT   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 25

Homeboy says

Employer W2 reporting? I have no idea how this would be considered a tax on the poor. Perhaps someone can enlighten us?

I suspect that this really means a tax on some medical benefits. Just like the tax on company provided life insurance. Again, this can affect anyone at any income level.

zzyzzx   Mon, 25 Mar 2013, 12:25am PDT   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (2)   Dislike     Comment 26

KarlRoveIsScum says

Tanning beds, LMFAO! Should be abolished anyway. The poor have the free sun! or fake tan.

Some medical conditions can be treated by tanning. Those people need tanning beds. You obviously do not know anyone with eczema or psoriasis. How insensitive of you!

curious2   Mon, 25 Mar 2013, 3:18am PDT   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 27

Paralithodes says

Eye glasses, contact lenses, and the like, which someone can already purchase over the counter should not be affected.

Where can you purchase contact lenses over the counter? American manufacturers wanted to sell that way, but were blocked by licensed prescribers, so in general you can't buy them that way in this country, FKA "the land of the free." In other countries you can buy OTC from their manufacturers, but not here.

And that's the symbol of Obamacare too: enforced dependence. You're not allowed to think for yourself, make your own decisions, etc. You'll be "taken care of." It's faux compassion: if you're poor, you'll be put in a taxi and driven around everywhere, whether you want that or not, but don't worry, the cost will be shifted onto "the rich" (meaning mostly the middle class). You're not allowed to ride a bicycle or even walk, you'll have mandatory taxicare with the cost shifted onto everyone else.

And the most ridiculous part is, Homefool and a few others present it as some sort of civil rights issue; Homefool blames opposition on "right wingers" and others call it racism. Because the first black President signed his name onto it (after having campaigned against it, when it was called "Hillary's Plan"), they circle the wagons and Homefool in particular (even though he seems to be a white boy) sounds like Charice from MadTV. But it wasn't always like that: some years ago, a black woman age 100+ gave an interview, in which she talked about her life and thoughts on longevity. She wasn't rich but she had her family and her health, and she felt proud of both. Her favorite food was collard greens, her favorite luxury was a cool glass of water on a hot day, and her favorite mode of transport was walking. Compare Homefool: physically dependent on toxic, useless, falsely advertised as "not habit forming" pills, trolling for fights online because he is so angry at life. What would Booker Washington say about the mandatory dependence of Obamacare? What would he say about children (and this risk is 4x higher for children on Medicaid, which Obamacare expands) being put on four or more prescriptions, in combinations that have never been tested, suffering lifelong side effects by their teenage years? I doubt he would call that a step forward for civil rights. When MLK Jr had his poor people's march on Washington, he didn't say they should all become hooked on toxic pills, dependent on PhRMA and Homefool's pushers.

Paralithodes   Mon, 25 Mar 2013, 4:28am PDT   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 28

curious2 says

Where can you purchase contact lenses over the counter?

I have no idea. I don't wear them, but it's an example of an end user/consumer item for which the excise tax doesn't apply.

curious2 says

And the most ridiculous part is, Homefool and a few others present it as some sort of civil rights issue; Homefool blames opposition on "right wingers" and others call it racism. Because the first black President signed his name onto it (after having campaigned against it, when it was called "Hillary's Plan"), ...

You are absolutely right. Not only did he campaign against the individual mandate, he mocked it while doing so!

Homeboy   Mon, 25 Mar 2013, 4:30am PDT   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 29

Paralithodes says

What about all of the very many small manufacturers of medical devices hit by this excise tax?

Which ones?

Paralithodes says

No. Does this mean that manufacturers will or will not raise prices?

It means the question is moot. If the poor and middle class only pay a fixed co-pay amount for medical devices, then it is irrelevant what the makers charge for them. You can't consider it a "tax on the poor".

Paralithodes says

And what is your point? Is this really the crux of the health care cost issue - individual retail items? Do you really deny that sutures, stents, dialysis supplies, IV bags, etc., that are crucial to delivery of "health care" and are NOT retail items in an aisle in a grocery store or CVS are a major cost component, and WILL be affected by this?

I think you're losing focus. We're discussing whether ACA "taxes the poor". I have already conceded that there will be some taxes. My point has always been that they will be borne by those who can well afford it.

Are you arguing that corporations fall under the category of "the poor"?

Besides which, these corporations are expected to have a windfall gain in business because of ACA, so they should still come out ahead even with the small tax they have to pay.

Paralithodes says

I can neither confirm nor deny this. Neither can you. How many additional devices would have to be sold by a particular company's product line to make up for just the extra tax on ONE device, to bring it to relative parity with the concept before Obamacare of paying tax just on the device's profit? I don't know.

Well it seems to me that if you don't know, then you don't have sufficient grounds to be critical of the ACA.

Homeboy   Mon, 25 Mar 2013, 4:34am PDT   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 30

Wow, zzyzzx - 6 posts in a row? You're like the guy who comes late to the party, then overstays his welcome. LOL.

zzyzzx says

If they do go to tanning booths, then they will be subject to this tax yes.

What's your point? Nobody has ever denied that there are some new tax provisions in ACA. What is in dispute is whether the working poor and middle class are being taxed, and a tax on tanning salons doesn't fit that definition. If you don't want to pay 10% more, don't go to a tanning salon. Pretty simple.

Homeboy   Mon, 25 Mar 2013, 4:39am PDT   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike (2)     Comment 31

zzyzzx says

Some medical conditions can be treated by tanning. Those people need tanning beds. You obviously do not know anyone with eczema or psoriasis. How insensitive of you!

Ridiculous. You're being a troll again.

Homeboy   Mon, 25 Mar 2013, 4:42am PDT   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)     Comment 32

zzyzzx says

I suspect that this really means a tax on some medical benefits. Just like the tax on company provided life insurance. Again, this can affect anyone at any income level.

You "suspect"? You're going to have to do better than that if you wish to convince me.

Paralithodes   Mon, 25 Mar 2013, 4:46am PDT   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike (1)     Comment 33

Homeboy says

Which ones?

I don't understand. Are you asking me to list the hundreds or more likely thousands of small businesses that produce some type of medical device and would be impacted by this? Or is your question a way of not acknowledging that there ARE many small businesses that would be hit by this? If I don't list any, will you argue that since I didn't list any, there must therefore not BE any small business that make medical devices?

Homeboy says

It means the question is moot. If the poor and middle class only pay a fixed co-pay amount for medical devices, then it is irrelevant what the makers charge for them. You can't consider it a "tax on the poor".

The money will have to come from somewhere: Either federal deficits, or increases in the premiums that perhaps everyone but the "poor" will have to pay. Perhaps you are right - the "poor" will not be hit by this. It will mainly be the middle class - everyone who will be forced to purchase a product from a health insurance company or pay a penalty.

Homeboy says

Besides which, these corporations are expected to have a windfall gain in business because of ACA, so they should still come out ahead even with the small tax they have to pay.

Homeboy says

Well it seems to me that if you don't know, then you don't have sufficient grounds to be critical of the ACA.

The problem here, obvious from your answers, is that you don't know either, and unfortunately you don't even know what you don't know. To make such a broad claim to the future of manufacturer integration of an excise tax - without it raising prices - as if it were a fact, is to simply repeat President Obama's talking points. That you repeat this, and that you ignored my questions about what you think are "exorbitant" profits, and that you think you know here, makes it apparent that you're not quite aware of the business world.

That one could make such a sweeping and broad claim is in itself sufficient grounds to be critical of the ACA, it's obvious propensity to favor the largest manufacturers at the expense of small business (because that is the ONLY way you could come even close to being confident that you "know"), and those who blindly support it. Do you really argue that if one does not claim that they know the future, they do not have sufficient grounds to be critical of certain projections an action may have on the future? Seriously? Do you apply this to all policy and legislation, or just the policy and legislation that you support?

Homeboy   Mon, 25 Mar 2013, 4:49am PDT   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 34

Paralithodes says

You are absolutely right. Not only did he campaign against the individual mandate, he mocked it while doing so!

I agree. He appears to have changed his mind. What does that have to do with whether ACA taxes the poor?

Homeboy   Mon, 25 Mar 2013, 5:02am PDT   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)     Comment 35

Paralithodes says

I don't understand. Are you asking me to list the hundreds or more likely thousands of small businesses that produce some type of medical device and would be impacted by this?

No, you could just list a few. You could do anything besides vague pronouncements.

Paralithodes says

The money will have to come from somewhere: Either federal deficits, or increases in the premiums that perhaps everyone but the "poor" will have to pay.

Obviously, if all Americans are to have healthcare, the money has to come from somewhere. The people who drafted ACA decided to have it come from 3 places: 1) Requiring everyone to buy insurance, so that there are no freeloaders in the system 2) Putting a limit on how much insurance companies can spend on administrative costs and profit relative to actual spending on medical care 3) adding some small taxes on wealthy people and corporations.

So yes, the money "comes from somewhere". Do you have a better suggestion as to where the money should come from? Would you rather have a direct tax on poor people?

Paralithodes says

The problem here, obvious from your answers, is that you don't know either, and unfortunately you don't even know what you don't know.

You are the one making the claim that ACA taxes the poor. This puts YOU in the position of needing to support your claim with evidence. You cannot simply make a claim and demand that I disprove it. That's ridiculous. I could just as easily say the moon is made of green cheese and demand that you provide scientific evidence to dispute me.

Paralithodes says

That you repeat this, and that you ignored my questions about what you think are "exorbitant" profits, and that you think you know here, makes it apparent that you're not quite aware of the business world.

I disagree. YOU are not aware of the business world. Now who is "ignoring questions"? You claimed there are thousands of small medical device makers who would be decimated by the excise tax, yet you have failed to provide an example of even ONE of these.

Homeboy   Mon, 25 Mar 2013, 5:15am PDT   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (2)   Dislike     Comment 36

http://ycharts.com/rankings/industries/Medical%20Devices/gross_profit_margin

http://www.mpo-mag.com/articles/2006/07/top-medical-device-companies-report

TOP MEDICAL DEVICE MANUFACTURERS

1. Johnson and Johnson $17.7B
2. GE Healthcare $12.1B
3. Medtronic $10.1B
4. Baxter International $9.8B
4. Cardinal Health $9.8B
6. Tyco Healthcare $9.5B
7. Siemens Medical Solutions $9.2B
8. Philips Medical Systems $7.5B
9. Boston Scientific $6.3B
10. Stryker $4.9B
11. B. Braun $3.9B
12. Guidant Corp. $3.6B
13. 3M Healthcare $3.5B
14. Zimmer Holdings $3.3B
15. Becton, Dickinson & Co. $3B
16. St. Jude Medical $2.9B
17. Kodak Health Group $2.7B
18. Hospira $2.6B
19. Fresenius $2.5B
20. Smith & Nephew $2.4B
21. Synthes $2.1B
22. Alcon $2B
23. Biomet $1.9B
24. C. R. Bard $1.8B
24. Terumo $1.8B
26. Dentsply International $1.7B
27. Invacare $1.5B
28. Gambro $1.4B
29. Dräger Medical $1.3B
30. Varian Medical $1.2B

http://www.aaos.org/news/aaosnow/feb11/advocacy2.asp

... the medical device industry maintains one of the highest profit margins in the private sector

zzyzzx   Mon, 25 Mar 2013, 6:25am PDT   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 37

Homeboy says

... the medical device industry maintains one of the highest profit margins in the private sector

What part of "they will pass the cost of increased taxes onto the consumer" don't you understand? FYI, any other increase on operating costs get passed along to the consumer as well. Econ 101.

zzyzzx   Mon, 25 Mar 2013, 6:27am PDT   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 38

Homeboy says

are being taxed, and a tax on tanning salons doesn't fit that definition. If you don't want to pay 10% more, don't go to a tanning salon. Pretty simple.

Exactly how do you propose someone avoid the increased costs in medical devices that will be passed onto the consumer?

david1   Mon, 25 Mar 2013, 6:27am PDT   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 39

zzyzzx says

Econ 101.

LOL. So you are saying that no matter the cost, the market demands the same number of devices? I thought in ECON 101 demand fell as the price increased..

Homeboy   Mon, 25 Mar 2013, 1:24pm PDT   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike (1)     Comment 40

zzyzzx says

Homeboy says

... the medical device industry maintains one of the highest profit margins in the private sector

What part of "they will pass the cost of increased taxes onto the consumer" don't you understand? FYI, any other increase on operating costs get passed along to the consumer as well. Econ 101.

Maybe you should have gone on to Econ 102. LOL.

zzyzzx   Tue, 26 Mar 2013, 2:15am PDT   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 41

david1 says

thought in ECON 101 demand fell as the price increased..

Certain things are elastic in demand, and certain things aren't, and some in between. For example, when food goes up in price, people don't stop eating. When gas goes up, some conservation takes place, to a point. When unnecessary junk goes up in price, yes demand drops. I'd put healthcare closer to the food analogy. Hence increased prices to medical device producers and anything else medical related I would expect to be passed along to the consumer.

For example, taxing boats caused a huge drop in demand:
http://www.nytimes.com/1992/02/07/business/falling-tax-would-lift-all-yachts.html

david1   Tue, 26 Mar 2013, 3:24am PDT   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 42

zzyzzx says

For example, when food goes up in price, people don't stop eating.

The term you are looking for is necessity good. And unfortunately, there are no goods that have perfectly inelastic demand. In order for price increases to have zero effect on demand, they must be perfectly inelastic.

Rising global food prices is leading to starvation. I am sure the starving still demand the food. They just aren't market participants any longer.

curious2   Tue, 26 Mar 2013, 3:38am PDT   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 43

Regarding the elasticity of demand, there are selections within categories of goods, even within necessity goods.

Within the food category, if you subsidize corn, people eat relatively more corn as opposed to other foods, for example collard greens. Since corn is less healthy for people than collard greens are, the people become less healthy too. Obesity is correlated with public assistance: instead of starving, the poor in America get fattened up on corn like CAFO cattle for the medical industrial complex.

Within the medical category, if you tax vaccines, people will get relatively fewer vaccines. They don't perceive the necessity if they aren't sick. Obamacare increases the tax on vaccines, and insurance coverage for them is sharply limited, and vaccines in America already cost several times more than in other countries. Similarly, Homefool sings the praises of his disproved SSRIs, which are toxic, but actual progress has occurred in the development of devices; this is why PhRMA wanted (and got) a tax on devices, to subsidize disproved pills.

To understand federal policy, you have to look at it in totality, and understand how it's made. The same federal government that taxes vaccines also subsidizes corn (including HFCS). The human CAFO model reflects the logical result of different lobbyists and politicians pursuing their own self-interest, maximizing revenue and power for themselves and their patronage networks.

Of course Obamacare taxes the poor, but since by definition they don't have much $ the tax on them is mostly in the form of ill health, by manipulating their food choices and putting their kids on toxic pills. Since Obamacare taxes headcount at affected employers, it also makes it harder for poor people to find a job, since the extra tax disproportionately affects jobs at the low end. Working harder for less, paying extra for anything not covered by lobbyist-written legislation, even what little they have is taken from them.

Homeboy   Tue, 26 Mar 2013, 4:07am PDT   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 44

zzyzzx says

Hence increased prices to medical device producers and anything else medical related I would expect to be passed along to the consumer.

Since items that are sold directly to consumers are exempt from the tax, please explain the mechanism by which medical device manufacturers will "pass the cost on to consumers".

zzyzzx   Tue, 26 Mar 2013, 4:55am PDT   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like   Dislike     Comment 45

Homeboy says

ince items that are sold directly to consumers are exempt from the tax,

Where does it say this???

curious2   Tue, 26 Mar 2013, 5:01am PDT   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 46

zzyzzx says

Where does it say this?

The IRS says, "There are specific