With all the yelling about a government takeover of health care or lofty promises that everything will be fixed at no cost, it’s easy to forget what the legislation actually says.
In fact, it’s hard to figure it out in the first place.
Finally, there’s a fact-based, no-spin primer on the draft bills in Congress now: Miyanville’s “What ObamaCare Really Means To You And Your Dear Old Granny.”
It’s hard to distill the distilled — there’s a lot more plainly laid out in the article — but here’s a basic breakdown of what’s in current legislation:
- If you have insurance now, you can keep it. As before, your company could change providers, but given the public option, it may even be cheaper.
- Even if you get sick, you can actually use your insurance. And if you can’t get affordable insurance now, you can under this plan. Also, you won’t be denied coverage for pre-existing conditions.
- You’ll have a choice of health care insurance plans. And the so-called public option — or slightly modified nonprofit “cooperative” — is not a government takeover of health care but would be one of several options, further incentivise companies to provide a range of price plans. And whatever happens, health care probably won’t bankrupt you: the current House plan sets limits at $5,000 for an individual and $10,000 for a family.
- ‘None Of The Above’ Is Not An Option. You’ll likely have a health care plan privately, through work or a government program like Medicare or Medicaid. And there will be subsidies to expand coverage. But if you can afford insurance but don’t buy it, you’ll be fined 2.5 per cent of your adjusted gross income on your tax return. There’s a hardship exemption, though.
- Your employer will likely cover you. Most employers will be required to offer plans or extra compensation to cover health insurance for employees. Small businesses will get tax credits for doing so.
- Medicare and Medicaid would be reformed, but essentially expanded. That includes waiving deductibles for preventive care under Medicare, and adding mental health services; Medicaid coverage would be expanded to include more low-income people, and requires coverage for newborns.
- It looks like the richest Americans are going to pay up, one way or another. About one-third of the total cost — perhaps $615 billion over 10 years — will likely come from the wealthy; the other two-thirds will come from new, cost-saving efficiencies.
- There are a lot of scary lies out there. There’s no death panels, euthanasia or change in abortion law. There’s also plenty of other half-truthful protests to the legislation — read them here.
Of course, there are two big caveats to the above points. One, none of this is a done deal as Congress has yet to iron-out the specifics in several versions of the bill. Second, few hard numbers are available now. For example, there’s nothing firm on your premiums; how much savings will come from eliminating waste; or how much debt this will cause.
Most importantly, what a bill actually says is far different from the way the government will operate under the law. Keep in mind that no one who voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program could have ever anticipated the capital injections that actually came about. Government is rarely constrained by either the letter or the spirit of the law.
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