May 27, 2009

Government Healthcare Plans Unfold

Under a new set of proposals by Senate Democrats, which resemble those under consideration by their peers in the House, everyone in the U.S. would be required to carry health insurance starting in 2013, except illegal immigrants and people with religious objections (I guess their's remains free care). Government would regulate the marketing of commercial insurance to families and employers as well as sales commissions paid to insurance agents and brokers.

Medicaid would be expanded to cover additional low-income families with children.

Families making up to four times the poverty level ($88,200 for a family of four) would be eligible for tax credits to help them afford coverage. Taxpayers would have to report their health insurance coverage on their federal income tax returns and the penalty for not carrying insurance would be up to 75 percent of the premium for the lowest-cost health plan in the area where the person lives. (This is like Massachusetts has now)

Health insurance companies would have their premiums regulated, and allow workers to drop out of group health plans to seek a better deal on their own, but the employer would have to pay the premium amount into a "national health insurance exchange."

The feds would set minimum standards for what benefits health plans would offer, including physician services, hospital care and prescription medications. All health plans would have to offer four levels of coverage, ranging from lowest to high.

Most companies would be required to offer insurance to full-time employees, or else pay a special "excise" tax. The government would provide tax credits to small businesses with up to 25 employees. Businesses with the lowest-wage workers would get more aid. All of this great stuff to save money and it only is estimated to cost 1 trillion dollars - such a deal!