What do real estate, health care, politics and you have in common?

Real Estate Agent with Highline Residential

Let me start off by saying that I’m not a political or politically-motivated person. Like most of us, I’m concerned with the issues that impact my life and vote to protect whatever is important to me. Of course, that isn’t always the right path to follow but we usually don’t find that out until it’s too late.

Whatever party you align yourself with is fine with me, it’s your choice. Unfortunately, politics has become such a nasty business that it’s hard to know what’s real and what’s not. The personal gains of politicians, the lobbyists who push their own agendas and the almighty dollar make a really bad combination and the American people suffer the consequences. Is this what our forefathers thought the framework they created for our nation was going to turn into? I doubt it.

So here I am minding my own business, when suddenly my personal life and work life have thrown me in the middle of the biggest issues in the presidential election. Let’s start off with the personal. Two years ago, my wife was diagnosed with asthma. If you’ve never seen someone having an asthma attack and unable to breathe, you’re very lucky. Luckier for us is we live down the block from a brand-new hospital, which saved her life.

Asthma is not an uninsurable health condition, unless you’re trying to get new insurance. Then it’s considered a pre-existing condition and now you are uninsurable if you’re trying to get individual health insurance. After her COBRA benefits expired, my wife was able to get health insurance through the “Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan (better known as Obamacare) and keeping this coverage is very important to us.

You and I don’t know what our health issues will be in the future and if you could lose your insurability, how will that impact your life? Medical hardships and excessive debt due to illness are a big reason why so many families have to short sale their homes. One issue trickles into another.

If other candidates are touting the repeal of this coverage, my wife and I really have to think twice about who we’ll vote for and why?

There’s a big topic that’s being “spun” to scare you into thinking there’s a new tax beginning in January that you’ll have to pay to help cover the cost of Medicare. You may not have heard it in the news, most likely you were forwarded an email with a subject line that says something like – “Thanks Barack… Obamacare Will Add 3.8% Medicare Tax on Sales of Homes, Condos, Townhouses and Rentals.”

The section of the voting public this campaign is primarily aimed at is our senior citizens. That’s either you, your parents or your grandparents. The biggest scare tactic is the false claim that Medicare premiums are doubling to $247 in 2014. Between the TV, radio talk shows and the internet, you can stay firmly entrenched in propaganda or you can learn the truth.

With baby boomers making up such a large percentage of voters, simply spreading the lie that your Medicare premium is going to double is enough to change someone’s vote (and help them spread the word.)

This issue has people’s blood boiling without really understanding exactly what goes into effect on January 1, 2013. So here I am, Mr. Not Political and now, thanks to endless false rumors about what this 3.8% real estate tax is, I’m obligated to give you access to what the tax really is and your likelihood of having to pay it.

The first great resource I’m going to share with you is “FactCheck.org“ Any time you hear or read something that sounds fishy regarding politics, come here to learn the truth. The website is a nonpartisan, nonprofit “consumer advocate” for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. They monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases. Their goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding.

FactCheck.org is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. The APPC was established by publisher and philanthropist Walter Annenberg to create a community of scholars within the University of Pennsylvania that would address public policy issues at the local, state and federal levels.

The National Association of Realtors has created an 11 page brochure that details what the tax is and 8 examples of what the tax consequence (if any) would be under various scenarios, click HERE to download. For a simpler overview, click HERE to read another good article.

I hope this information was helpful and informative. If nothing else, please don’t kill the messenger, I’m just here to help you make an informed decision, whatever that may be.

Mark Karten is a Las Vegas Realtor who specializes in listing and selling homes in Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and Henderson. If your home is “upside down” – learn more about your choices before you think of walking away – a short sale might be the right option.


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Diane Daley
Caron's Gateway Real Estate - Northumberland, NH

Thanks for the link, article and information This is an important topic as we move into 2013.  I hope it gets stopped for the betterment of all.

Aug 05, 2012 04:15 AM #1
Mark Karten
Highline Residential - Manhattan, NY

Hi Diane,

Actually, I'm in support of the tax as I detailed in the article.  The health care coverage is important as I detailed my personal reasons and the people subject to paying the tax are much less than people think and for much less money than people think, too.

Thanks for writing!


Aug 05, 2012 04:21 AM #2
Bill Reddington
Re/max By The Sea - Destin, FL
Destin Florida Real Estate

Understand your health concerns but at an estimated cost of 800 BILLION Dollars. $800,000,000,000, think it needs to be reconsidered. Don't forget to vote. More taxes does not fix the problems. Less spending is a reality.

Aug 05, 2012 04:31 AM #3
Tammy Lankford,
Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668 - Eatonton, GA
Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville

I have children with pre-existing conditions.  It never made it impossible to insure them, just more costly.  Insurance companies are also a business and if they know up front my children are likely to file many claims they should be allowed to charge more for their coverage.  And I can't support any new taxes in this economy.  So I have from both sides of the coin thoughtfully considered my November vote.

Aug 05, 2012 04:33 AM #4
Mark Karten
Highline Residential - Manhattan, NY

Hi Bill,

Thanks for the comment!  Actually, the 3.8% tax is being used to shore up Medicare, which needs to be addressed as I think it should be available to you, me and our kids.  It seems like "less spending" on Medicare is not a reality, unfortunately.

The issue of this tax is being lumped in with Obamacare and uninsured, which are separate issues.

It's great to have a dialogue for everyone to hash this out and get a better understand, rather than just a soundbite and "overview."

All the best,


Aug 05, 2012 04:37 AM #5
Mark Karten
Highline Residential - Manhattan, NY

Hi Tammy,

Great input.  Again, this 3.8% tax goes towards Medicare, not the uninsured.  This isn't a tax that the majority of us will ever pay.  That's the key to getting this information out, especially as Realtors who have the power and ear on a topic we're involved so closely with.


Aug 05, 2012 04:39 AM #6
Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi
NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656 - New Lenox, IL
708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience

Mark:  Totally understand where you are coming from.  I had my own health scare and insurance realities to deal with a few years ago.  COBRA helped and was an option.  But the real option was pay the high costs of COBRA ... or go without insurance?  Sometimes it truly boils down to numbers.  Can you afford it?  Obviously when facing health concerns ... and the availabilities of medicines that make life possible ... it gets important fast.  Glad your wife was okay during her scare.  Know too well the scarey realities of breathing problems.  I pray she always has the meds she needs ... and the peace of mind of good health care and insurance ...

You put it into perspective when you speak on this personal level.  Thank you ...


Aug 05, 2012 04:57 AM #7
Mark Karten
Highline Residential - Manhattan, NY

Hi Gene,

Thanks for your comment.  You're right, COBRA is a high-priced solution, but it's only available for 18 months.  Then what do folks do?  Until you're faced with no insurance and waiting to qualify for Medicare, any ailment can send someone hurtling towards losing their home and bankruptcy.

I've helped far too many folks with short sales who have had this exact thing happen.  It's very sad when people don't consider the person they may be hurting is themselves.



Aug 05, 2012 05:02 AM #8
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