Monday, March 22, 2010

Health Care Reform Bill 101


Well, it is an historic day as health reform has finally passed. Yes, it is a watered down bill that leaves much to be desired but...it is a start. After months of stops, starts, rhetoric, fear mongering, empty promises and long, heated debate, many Americans are not sure of what just passed. It will have different effects on different people and many of the provisions are delayed until 2014. Here are a few features of the new bill:

  • Insurers will be prohibited right away from excluding children with pre-existing health conditions. Adults will have to wait until 2014 to be assured of coverage.
  • Health plans will have to provide immunizations and other preventive health services for children and adolescents.
  • Insurers cannot charge higher insurance premiums for woman and maternity care is covered.
  • Most US citizens and legal residents must purchase "minimal essential coverage" for themselves and their dependents, either through the employer or exchanges that will sell policies to individuals. By 2014 you will pay a tax penalty if you ignore this mandate.
  • The government will subsidize the purchase of insurance at incomes of four times the poverty level. For one person that is $44,000/year. For a family of four it is $88,000/year. The federal subsidy would go straight to the insurer. Really poor people would enroll in a newly expanded Medicaid program.
  • Insurance companies will be prohibited from placing lifetime caps on their policies.
  • Employers with 50 or fewer workers would be exempt from coverage provisions. If a firm has more than 50 employees it is not required to offer health insurance but if an employee gets a subsidy from the feds to purchase insurance on his own, the employer will be taxed a fee for every full-time worker.
  • Small businesses will be eligible for tax credits in exchange for providing health insurance.
  • Parents can keep children on their plans until they reach age 26.
  • People with incomes of $200K or more and families with incomes of $250K will be subject to a new 3.8% "Medicare Tax".
The new bill will extend coverage to 32 million Americans, expand the government health plan for the poor, impose new taxes on the wealthy and bar insurance practices like refusing to cover people with pre-existing medical conditions, according the the New York Times.

That all sounds pretty good to me.

21 comments:

KM said...

Thanks for writing about this and breaking it down in a clear, concise way. Your poll should say if it should be answered before or after reading your latest article.

Anonymous said...

As you stated, "It's a start". What a polarized bunch of Republicans in Congress. Was there not one, who could see the advantages to his (or her) fellow Americans? I guess not.

Michael Kirsch, M.D. said...

Count me as a skeptic. I think that health care costs will continue to explode and that the plan won't deliver as promised. Thrity two million uninsured will now be covered, but half of them will be in the Medicaid program. While this is still a huge step forward, physicians can barely afford to care for Medicare patients at current rates, and Medicaid rates are 72% of Medicare. I am happy seeing Medicaid patients, but I couldn't afford to run a practice if the volume of these patients increased to a significant degree. When the euphoria ebbs, I think that public opposition and anxiety will rise. Cutting medical costs means restricting care, which is political dynamite. It will be interesting!

Anonymous said...

As you stated, "It's a start". What a polarized bunch of Republicans in Congress. Was there not one, who could see the advantages to his (or her) fellow Americans? I guess not.

Oddly enough, opposition to the law was bipartisan. It's hard to claim that the Republicans were unreasonably polarized when a significant number of Democrats agreed with them.

Greta said...

For every good idea which could have had bipartisan support, there are huge problems with this mess of a bill. If the democrats had not started out saying we won and you lost so we are going to pass our 50 year old dream down your throats, it might have had a chance of actual reform. Instead we got this which is going to cost a lot of democrat seats bringing the republicans back into power. They have the power of the purse if in power and can defund the areas that are really bad. As Dr Kirsch said, doctors cannot take even lower amounts, especially with the increased mandates coming their way, and survive. So watch out folks, if you are on one of these government plans, you might find it hard to get a doctor.

Healthcare has been screwed up since government got involved and anyone who thinks the federal government can fix healthcare is obviously not paying attention. name a single government program that operates on budget, is sustainable, is consumer friendly, and does not raise taxes which kill jobs.

Anonymous said...

This is NOT health care reform. It is health Insurance reform/

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