Senate approves unpopular healthcare legislation

Posted By on December 24, 2009

The year 2009 is closing with our federal government’s Christmas present making big changes in America’s healthcare system. Today, the senate passed legislation moving a massive 2000+ page healthcare bill one step closer to law and will in essence give significant control of over one-sixth of our nation’s economy to bureaucrats. Although rasmussenpoll_healthcaresupposedly promising needed change to a system that has seen healthcare cost escalate in recent decades, the new mandates will take  control and decisions from American citizens and put it in the hands of Washington politicians – rarely a good thing in my opinion.

Let’s start with the mandate:
The new government proposals will require all citizens to care health coverage who are "deemed able to afford it." If they don’t carry it by 2014, penalties will be assessed initially in the form of a "$95 fee" in the first year. By 2015, the penalty is $495/year and $750 in 2016 – low or no income need not worry, an insurance policy for you and your family will be provided, courteous of the taxpayers. Higher income earners choosing to resist paying for health insurance that meets government minimums could face a penalty of 2% of their income up to the cost of the basic insurance plan.

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As for basic plans, insurance companies that sell new policies next year will no longer be able to place lifetime caps on coverage and will lose their ability to set annual limits on benefits. The insurance companies will have to pay the entire cost of preventive services such as mammograms, colonoscopies, flu vaccines and assistance to people trying to quit smoking (good luck finding an affordable plan). Notice the above denotes new insurance plans; if you are one of the more than 160 million that are covered by existing plans, you will be grandfathered into the old plans and won’t have to adopt such changes – you’ll be welcome to keep the caps on coverage and can continue to live with the limits in your existing plan (so long as your company participates and you keep your job).

An immediate benefit being negotiated on your behave is one that helps Medicare beneficiaries falling in the ‘doughnut hole’ and in need of name brand prescriptions – how about a 50% discount on their cost? The biggest change will come in 2014 when the penalties kick in, that’s when the government will start to hand out tax credits to low- and middle-income Americans to offset the cost of buying insurance and expand the Medicaid federal-state program to provide insurance to a greater swath of the poor. $$$ (can I type enough dollar signs?).

A few items that will affect those who responsibly plan, is the $2500 limit on the flexible spending health saving accounts – these are the pre-taxed dollars many set aside for managed medical expenses throughout the year. Another comes in 2013 and targets people with insurance plans worth more than $8,500 for an individual and $23,000 for a family. These individuals will face a new tax of 40% on the amount of the benefit that exceeds those levels. Expect the insurance companies to reduce the benefits in their plans to avoid these taxes (commonly referred to as Cadillac plans).

The major goal for insurance companies will be to get as many healthy people “paying” into the system by 2014 or shortly thereafter AND before taking those adults who many pre-existing conditions. Insurers in 2014 will no longer be able to charge older people significantly more than the lowest insured; the number for older adults is maxed at  three times. Also in 2014 look for the new state insurance exchanges where people without employer plans and small businesses can shop for coverage. In addition to plans from private insurers, the exchanges supposedly will offer plans administered by the same entity that handles insurance for government workers.

In theory getting this kind of health coverage sounds great, does it not?

  • Everyone will have insurance and the government pays, not only emergency care, but for well-care insurance for those who can’t afford it.
  • Require insurance companies offer unlimited coverage and no denials for pre-existing conditions.
  • Set prices so the elderly pay a maximum only three times that of a young healthy individual.
  • Offer assistance for brand name drugs and tax credit assist to low and middle income Americans so they can buy insurance.

Let’s for a moment believe that government control medicine was indeed best for America … how does this:

  1. save money,
  2. improve quality of healthcare
  3. guarantee efficiencies

By the way, don’t get me started on the sweetheart deals being made for votes or the fact that $500,000,000 is being cut from Medicare and Medicaid and will be shifted to states … that’s for another post. For now, Merry Christmas from those working and listening to you in Washington DC [/sarcasm].

Comments

Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.
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