Turn Your Head and Cough

October 30, 2009 - 6:10 AM
After hearing what's in this House health care bill, I feel like I do when I'm getting my annual physical and my doc tells me to "turn your head and cough."
One Thousand, Nine Hundred Ninety pages. That's how many pages it takes to change health care in America, if the House Democrats get their way.
 
How great is this bill? According to Dave Espo of the Associated Press, "Congressional budget experts predicted the controversial government insurance option would probably cost consumers somewhat more than private coverage.[Emphasis mine]
 
"The cost of additional coverage alone was slightly more than $1 trillion over a decade.
 
"Another $230 billion or more in higher fees for doctors treating Medicare patients was stripped out and will be voted on separately.”
 
Espo also points out that "Other items, including billions for disease prevention programs" were not included in the spending estimates.”
 
The bill requires insurance companies "to spend 85 percent of their income from premiums on coverage, effectively limiting their ability to advertise or pay bonuses" and places a new tax on the makers of medical devices - like pacemakers - to help pay for the scheme.”
 
Hold it. Wait. Does this mean the end of the Aflac duck?
 
As you might expect, John Boehner, the Republican leader in the House was less than enthusiastic, saying: "It will raise the cost of Americans' health insurance premiums; it will kill jobs with tax hikes and new mandates, and it will cut seniors' Medicare benefits."
 
According to Janet Adamy's coverage in the Wall Street Journal, “The bill requires most Americans to have health insurance by 2013, with fines as much as 2.5% of income if they don't. It would leave 96% of legal U.S. residents with health insurance by 2019, up from 83% today.”
 
Also, “Employers that don't offer health insurance face fines equal to 2% of their payroll in companies with minimum annual payrolls of $500,000 a year. The fines increase to 8% of payroll for employers whose annual payroll exceeds $750,000.
Firms with a payroll of less than $500,000 would be exempt.”
 
I'm not certain, but let me work though this. If I had a firm with 20 employees making an average of $50,000 per year each, my payroll would be $1 million per year. If I were offering health insurance, my premiums would be, what about $400-500 per month per employee?
 
If I stopped offering health insurance, my one million dollar payroll would be subject to a tax of $80,000 per year - or $333.33 per month per employee which is probably less than what I'm paying now.
 
I might well be ahead of the game to turn the process over to the Feds, pay the tax, and get out of the health insurance business.
 
The Washington Post analysis by Shailagh Murray and Lori Montgomery
"Like the Senate measure, the House bill would be financed through new taxes and more than $400 billion in cuts to government health programs, primarily Medicare."
 
Isn't that what caused the furor during the August recess town hall meetings? Cutting Medicare?
 
But, this is no done deal. According to the WashPost, “The Senate is expected to propose a series of annual fees on the health-care industry and a 40 percent tax on high-cost insurance policies …House Democrats remain adamantly opposed to the Senate's tax approach, arguing that a tax on high-cost health policies would strike many … union members who have bargained away wages in exchange for better health benefits.”
 
So, the real cost of this thing will be upwards of $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years, it will raise taxes, cut Medicare benefits, and put new Federal restrictions on a whole new class of private businesses.
 
I feel like I do when I'm getting my annual physical and my doc tells me to "turn your head and cough."
 
Please subscribe so I can afford health insurance under this new plan.
 
On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to the Associated Press and Washington Post articles, a pretty good Mullfoto and a column-appropriate Catchy Caption of the Day.