So, let’s say it’s 2014 and you and your spouse have two children. You both make a combined salary of $93,000. You are both freelancers and don’t get health insurance through your employer.

In 2014, when the mandate goes into effect, the average health insurance premium for a family of four will be about $16,000 per year. You make too much money to qualify for federal subsidies to offset the cost of health insurance premiums. 

Therefore, 17% of your pre-tax income will be spent on health insurance that you are mandated to buy. You are exempt from the fine because the cheapest plan is more than double the 8% of your income limit that exempts you from the fine.

According to today’s SCOTUS decision, you and your family must pay a “tax” to a private, for-profit corporation called Aetna or Wellpoint of 17% of your pre-tax income. 

$16,000/17% of your pre-tax income? Will you be able to afford this? Probably not. And then you are still uninsured.

About a year ago, I listened to a This American Life episode about the invention of money. Of course, money used to be a physical object. Now it’s essentially just ones and zeros. But what if money was still a physical object? What if, every month, we had to physically carry $1400 cash to the health insurance company to cover our family’s monthly premiums? 

Photo by me from way back in my Baltimore days.

My entire professional career has been one big schlep. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

There are great startup ideas lying around unexploited right under our noses. One reason we don’t see them is a phenomenon I call schlep blindness. Schlep was originally a Yiddish word but has passed into general use in the US. It means a tedious, unpleasant task.

No one likes schleps, but hackers especially dislike them. Most hackers who start startups wish they could do it by just writing some clever software, putting it on a server somewhere, and watching the money roll in—without ever having to talk to users, or negotiate with other companies, or deal with other people’s broken code. Maybe that’s possible, but I haven’t seen it.

Thanks for the heads up Rick.

My entire professional career has been one big schlep. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.