If you are American-born or someone living in this country legally and are between the ages of 19 to 25, you are about to become a second-class citizen – if that.
Let’s say you are breaking your back working for Amazon as one of the countless employees hired through contractors that dismiss you before three months are up so Jeff Bezos does not have to ding his bottom line by paying your health benefits.
You make perhaps $15 an hour but there are gaps in your employment because Amazon contractors wait the appropriate time under the law to rehire you so that they also don’t get stuck paying you benefits.
Because you are single and even though you may supplement your income with a second job so you can make $24,000 a year, this is California and not Alabama meaning you are struggling to make ends meet.
You can’t really afford to purchase health insurance. Not because you party or have to buy the latest electronic devices. It’s just that on $24,000 – after Uncle Sam and Sacramento take their cut and you want to enjoy extras like a roof over your head, clothing, food and be able to get back and forth to that Amazon job – you really don’t have much money left over to buy toilet paper let alone health insurance.
Insurance plans, one might add, have such high deductibles they don’t do you any good. And even if you found a way to squeeze the cash for a policy out of your limited income, you may not buy insurance because if you do you won’t have money left to see the dentist or buy glasses – two things not covered by basic insurance – or even be a able to see a doctor when you are ill given the $800 deductible.
Since Washington, D.C. is going to give you a break this year and not slap you with a sizable penalty for not buying health insurance, Sacramento is gearing up to right that wrong. There is a movement in the Legislature to have the state penalize those who are in this country legally – citizens and legal immigrants but not those here illegally – who refuse to buy health insurance.
And now a movement is picking up speed in Sacramento to provide free healthcare to those who are illegally in this country and between the ages of 19 and 25 as well as 65 and older. That is in addition to those who are here illegally who are 18 and younger the state already covers as well as citizens and legal immigrants who aren’t adults who live in low-income households that can’t afford insurance.
So you understand what is happening to you – as a 19- to 25-year-old born in this country or here as a legal immigrant who lacks the financial wherewithal to buy health insurance despite working your rear end off – those your same age who are in California illegally will not only have free health insurance but free healthcare while you will work and are penalized hundreds of dollars for being unable to affordable health insurance that requires you to spend more than $800 in a year before it even starts to pick up a percentage of the cost of medical care.
The plan to expand Medi-Cal to everyone under 26 in the state that meets certain income criteria will cost an estimated $98 million a year. But that’s not enough for some who want everyone covered who can’t afford insurance regardless of their age and whether they are in this country legally. The cost of that proposal is $3.4 billion a year.
You’re probably wondering how the state is going to pay for either bill, especially when the budget based on how taxes are assessed in this state will inevitably plunge into a down cycle. The answer is simple. They will increase income taxes on everyone, including the 23-year-old second-generation American citizen working 10 to 12 hour shifts at Amazon who is barely getting by and who is also being dinged penalties by the state for not buying health insurance.
Are you starting to understand the concept of being even lower than a second-class citizen when someone else who is your age and in this country illegally will not just get free health insurance but you’ll be taxed for it as well as being penalized by the state for not being able to afford to buy your own health insurance?
Don’t ask how this is fair because despite all the political pontificating it isn’t. What you should ask is how is it sustainable financially?
Keep in mind we have a $15 billion surplus in the current year on top of the $14 billion constitutionally requires reserve for economic downturns. California was in a similar situation 15 years ago before the Great Recession hit.
Everyone in California cut back – private businesses, local government, K-12 education and the non-profit sector. Everybody that is but the state and those clinging to entitlement programs, which is what free healthcare for those between the ages of 19 and 26 will become.
Yes, the majority of those who are undocumented immigrants work. And yes, it is more expensive when they have to go to an emergency room for a health issue than to a doctor. And there is even the humanitarian angle to consider.
But at the end of the day the real question is not just whether we can afford to do it but if we are sacrificing the health, welfare and economic well-being of Americans or legal immigrants working their tails off but are still treading water and will be swallowing even more water in order to help pay for free healthcare illegal aliens.
The phrase “take care of our own” always seems to trigger accusations of racism, prejudice and such when it is used to argue against extending entitlements to those who are not in this country legally.
But what Sacramento is about to do is akin to crossing the Rubicon. There is no going back.
And once we get to the other side, we will have created a situation where young adults that are legal immigrants or American-born who are working to make a living will be reduced to second class citizen status in their own country behind those in this country illegally when it comes to healthcare.
No wonder why it seems like half the world at times is trying to enter to the United States.
This is now the Promised Land not for opportunity but for entitlements to the point where those here illegally will actually have more “rights” than those that are American-born.
This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Ceres Courier or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.