The Wall Street Journal could not have found a more perfect hipster to illustrate why, as a Thursday headline reads, "New Health-Care Law's Success Rests on the Young." His name is Gabe Meiffren. He is a 25-year-old cook at a Korean-Hawaiian food cart. He lives in Portland. He does not have health insurance, and if he were compelled to buy it—or pay the penalty for not doing so—then he would have to cut back on records, concert tickets, and, the gravest prospect of all, "whiskey sours at the Horse Brass Pub down the street."
This is what Meiffren claimed, anyway, "[a]fter getting a peek at rates being offered for fall." Which is to say, one or both of the article's reporters, Christopher Weaver and Louise Radnofsky, were probably roaming around Portland with an insurance-premium cheat sheet, looking for hipsters who probably voted for Obama—if they voted at all.
Here is who else they found: a bike mechanic, a line cook, a vintage dealer, a photobooth owner, a waitress, a bar-back, bike-shop owner, nanny, and a woman with "multiple jobs." None has health insurance, and none makes more than $30,000. And most of them are wary of what Obamacare would cost them. "I agree that health insurance is important, but nothing bad ever happened to me," says one guy. And another: "There's so many expenses that you don't want to think about health care. We don't know a lot about it. That's probably because we don't need it that much."
The Journal did not need to send its reporters to Portland for these quotes: I heard such sentiments a lot when I lived in New York City in my twenties. And these people are, of course, wrong. Everyone needs health insurance. Otherwise you might end up like Mike Boone, a bartender at Trusty's in Washington, D.C., who was stabbed while defending a woman who was being mugged. He did not have health insurance, and his medical bills last October, the Huffington Post reported, totaled $60,000 and rising.
May these Portland hipsters not face such hell. But waitresses do slip. Kitchens do catch on fire. Bicyclists do get hit by buses.
Image via Shutterstock.com
Ryan Kearney is a story editor at The New Republic.