Congress Considers Partially Removing Tax Exemption On Employer Provided Health Benefits

Would you be willing to pay more in taxes in order to fund a more equitable health care program for the nation’s uninsured? From MSNBC:

While details of such an approach are still sketchy, it would likely involve employees paying tax on a percentage of their employer-provided health benefits. So if Congress decided that all such premiums in excess of $11,000 for family plans would be taxable income, and your company paid premiums worth $16,000 for your coverage, you’d have to pay taxes on $5,000.

Of course, this is only in the discussion phase right now, and there’s nothing definite. It’s one option being floated as Congress begins to discuss how to actually make President Obama’s proposed health insurance reform package a reality. It’s also something John McCain proposed last year, and for which Obama criticized him. And look who else has proposed it:

In 1984, President Ronald Reagan floated the idea of requiring workers to pay taxes on employer contributions to their health insurance exceeding $2,100 a year. A Washington Post editorial the following year called the proposal “surprisingly lucrative yet eminently fair,” and speculated that “(it) might have helped hold down health care costs in the bargain.” But opposition, especially from labor unions, scuttled the proposal.

“Health insurance ëhaves’ to pay for ëhave-nots’?” [MSNBC]
(Photo: PhotoDu.de)

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  1. nataku8_e30 says:

    mccain also talked about doing this during the election, which was one of the things i didn’t like about him. nothing like taking barely affordable plans and making them even more expensive – maybe we could reduce the number of insured even more.

    • Hongfiately says:

      @nataku83: McCain’s plan was to give a $5,000 tax credit to individuals and $10,000 credit for families to cover the purchase of their own plans. Of course, practically nobody in the media accurately told you about the tax credit part and the Obama campaign savaged McCain about taxing employer-provided benefits. Now we’re gonna get that without the tax credit and without the portability it would have provided.

      • Hongfiately says:

        @Hongfiately: Whoops, it was $2,500/$5,000.

        • Nogard13 says:

          @Hongfiately: Actually, we’d have to wait and see what the cap on the tax is (i.e. they tax everything above $11,000). If that were the case, then you would be saving your marginal tax rate (for me, 28%) on everything above $5000 for families versus the McCain plan (you see, McCain was going to tax it all and then give you $5000).

          Congress isn’t considering taxing all of it (as McCain would’ve wanted). They’ll only tax everything above a certain number. Now, to figure out if you would make any money or not, you’d have to do some calculations and see, but everyone that pays less than the amount stipulated by Congress would be saving money with this plan rather than the McCain plan.

          BTW, I oppose them all. I don’t believe that it should be my responsibility to pay for other people’s health care. It’s hard enough to pay for my own.

          • vinhpoo says:

            @Nogard13: The problem is that you already are paying for other people’s health care. Your premiums pay for the cost of uninsured patients which hospitals pass along to your insurance company. Either way, you’re paying so you might as well get some benefit from it.

            • nataku8_e30 says:

              @vinhpoo: Unfortunately, even if you stopped using health insurance, you’re still paying for it since all of the processing infrastructure is built into the overhead costs charged by any doctor or hospital. I would rather pay for my health care costs directly than have a parasitic industry skimming $400 billion a year off of everybody’s health care.

            • DanielleTexodus says:

              @vinhpoo: I hear this a lot but it makes no sense to me.I’ve looked at my hospital bills and what the insurance company paid for each procedure. In each case the insurance company only paid a portion of the bill.

              Example: A night in the hospital would cost me $200 if I paid directly. It only cost the insurance company $175.

              So how is this additional cost from uninsured patients passed onto my insurance company?

              • vinhpoo says:

                @DanielleTexodus: it’s built in because it’s $175. If your insurance company wasn’t subsidizing care for the uninsured it would likely be even less than that.

      • Corporate_guy says:

        @Hongfiately: Everyone accurately knew of McCain’s plan and tax credit. Stop playing garbage games. It’s a dumb plan and McCain came up with it like minutes before the election so he had something to talk about that didn’t involve racism.

      • KCChiefsFan says:

        @Hongfiately:

        I don’t want to imagine the family health care plan you could get for 5,000 dollars. That was easily the worst health care related plan I’ve ever heard of. It’s as if zero research went into how much employers are actually paying per employee for health care (more than 5,000 by a long shot). It’s also as if they didn’t ask a single employed person if they’d rather pay for their own plan out of their own pockets instead of being on their employers plan.

        I’m about as centrist as they come (I agree with one party on some things, and the other on other things) but that was one plan that shouldn’t even have been considered.

        Needless to say, I don’t think making health care more expensive for those that are lucky enough to have it is a good idea.

    • henwy says:

      @nataku83:

      Mccain was stupid. He should have just did what Obama did. Lie about it during the election and then once firmly in place, backpeddle on everything.

  2. PDQ2 says:

    Given how crummy some employer health plans are (especially small businesses who can’t afford a decent plan for the employees who make the company successful), the employee might be better off declining his employer health plan and going for the government plan. No taxes paid at all!!

    • HiPwr says:

      @PDQ2: Why would any employer pay for health care when the government gives it away for “free”? Why would any employee pay taxes on his employer’s health care plan when he can ditch it and go with the government-provided system?

      • ideagirl says:

        @HiPwr: Because if you are eligible for health insurance through an employer you generally don’t qualify for gov’t plans (at least where I live)

        • HiPwr says:

          @ideagirl: I wouldn’t be eligible. My employer says “screw that, we lose more money if we provide health care. Cancel everyone and let the government pay for it.”

      • cmdrsass says:

        @HiPwr: ding ding ding. we have a winner. This is the real plan.

        • mzs says:

          @cmdrsass: With the tax benefit there was less of a brake to buy more health care and for the plans to get more costly. With that incentive gone, it may help keep the costs of the plans under control. Also the idea is that employers/employees would be able to buy the government plan or a private plan. That gives another incentive for the private companies to keep the costs to the employer below that of the government plan. I’m sure though that there will be new business model where the insurers will limit the employer contribution payments below the government plan and the employee will be forced to pay more than the government one with the promise that the service will be better at medical facilities and pharmacies.

      • shepd says:

        @HiPwr:

        Because the government provided plan sucks?

        This is coming from a Canadian who finds that almost every employer here includes a health plan.

      • Gorphlog says:

        @HiPwr:

        Because the government healthcare will suck

      • Stile4aly says:

        @HiPwr:
        Employers will continue to provide healthcare because it will be mandatory for employers over a certain size to provide a plan. Employees will continue with their plans even if taxed because their plans will likely be superior to a government offered plan. Though a government offered plan may very well be a well-run system, many private plans will be less than the $11K threshold (particularly after the increased competition brings down prices). Plans over the $11K threshold are the types of plans that McCain joked about as covering hair plugs and Viagra.

        That being said, I think the ultimate solution to the health care issue is a reevaluation of the payroll tax system.

    • Saboth says:

      @PDQ2:
      I agree with you. It is impossible to get a good plan at a small company these days. Currently where I work, it is like $600 a month for a family plan, with a $2,000 yearly deductable and $200 yearly prescription deductable. That would be almost 10k a year. Nevermind most of the people where I work make about $8 an hour.

      Personally, I went to Anthem on my own, told them health insurance isn’t available where I work, and ended up getting a plan that is BETTER than the one where I work (like $750 deductable, and covers more), and I was paying 1/2 of what it cost me from my employer.

      • hedonia says:

        @Saboth: I know you’re trying to help people, but you should be more careful about who you tell that. Its stupid, but you never know which bored jerk who works for the insurance company might be listening – its not as hard to find out who you really are as you might think.

        I agree with what you did, just don’t want you or anyone else thinking about doing it to get caught.

      • gttim says:

        @Saboth: My company’s plan went through the roof. We got a 900% increase in my contribution. As a single male in good health I was suddenly paying $200 a month just for my share and the plan had a huge deductible- and I work for an insurance company. I told them no thanks and bought a plan for much less on my own. I will be first in line to buy a public option plan with the government running it. I trust the government much more than the crooks running the private health industry.

    • jswilson64 says:

      @PDQ2: And does this mean that the portion of my premium that I pay (pre-tax dollars) would then become tax-deductible? That only seems fair.

    • dianashotko says:

      I can get behind getting my own health insurance! If no one had employer sponsored benefits, it would force the insurance companies to compete with each other, and who doesn’t love a good price war?

      Remember, they’re called healthcare benefits because they were used as incentives to attract people to companies. Somewhere along the way, they became healthcare entitlements.

      @PDQ2:

      • grumpygirl says:

        @dianashotko: That would work great so long as you can get health insurance. I had cancer as a teenager and as a result, no insurance plan other than employer sponsored will accept me – not even the crappy ones.

  3. bobpence says:

    I was willing to pay this when Bush floated a trial balloon and when McCain proposed it, in both cases because it would make it easier for folks like my sister and her self-employed husband to insure their family. Separated from private-sector insurance access improvements, however, it is worse than useless: It sets a de facto going rate for insurance coverage, even if good coverage would be less in some states than the new threshhold.

  4. I Love New Jersey says:

    No thank you.
    It takes even more money out of the economy and making things “equitable” sounds like “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others” with an unhealthy side order of redistribution of wealth in this health care ruining package.

    • Esquire99 says:

      @I Love New Jersey:
      Agreed. I’m sorry, I work too hard for my money to see my taxes raised to support other people. People should be expected to pay their own way.

      • Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

        @Esquire99: Sorry, that ship sailed when man started living in communities. Common contributions for common benefits, and all that.

        You already pay for the other’s “way”. When you get to retirement age, with no kids in the school system, try not “paying the way” of my kids by witholding what you believe are the appropriate amount of taxes, and let us know how that works out for you.

      • crashfrog says:

        @Esquire99: You understand that the whole point of insurance is that someone else pays for your health care, right? If everyone should “pay their own way” why do you even have health insurance? Why don’t you pay your own way?

        • I Love New Jersey says:

          @crashfrog: I thought the whole point of insurance was that you paid for it so when you needed it you could use it and the group buying power reduced your costs.

          • reynwrap582 says:

            @I Love New Jersey: Except Mr. Never-Gets-Even-A-Cold is paying as much as Joe Hypochondriac and Mary God-What-Awful-Genes and getting nothing more out of it than a safety net. Some people use far more than they pay, and some use far more than they pay. If you’re paying for private insurance and not through work, it’s not as big a split, but it’s still significant. I haven’t needed to go to the doctor or use any medical services for well over a decade, save for one time when I had strep throat, and I just paid $120 out of pocket for the appointment and anti-biotics, but I’ve paid plenty into health plans (well, my employers have, but if they didn’t, perhaps I’d get that raise.)

            • reynwrap582 says:

              @reynwrap582: “Some people use far more than they pay, and some use far more than they pay.”

              No, rey, you completely blew that one. Some people pay for far more than they use, and some use far more than they pay for.

            • TreyWaters says:

              @reynwrap582: But the difference is that paying into health insurance – whether you use it or not – is optional.

              I can’t tell the IRS or my state’s Dept. of Revenue: “Ya know, I’m going to opt out of paying the part of my tax bill that funds welfare and food stamps. I’ll just forgo the ability to sit on my butt and get free money.”

          • crashfrog says:

            @I Love New Jersey: No, if that was how it worked it would be a savings account, not insurance, and your health coverage would be limited to what you had been able to save up until that point.

            When you say “when you needed it you could use it”, the “it” you’re talking about is some else’s money. How can you not be getting this?

    • GuinevereRucker says:

      @I Love New Jersey: Totally agree. Let’s fix wellfare abuse and put that money toward health care. My taxes are already high enough, thanks.

      • hegemonyhog says:

        @GuinevereRucker: Do you have any clue what percentage of the federal budget goes to welfare? Or do you just assume that some gargantuan portion goes to it because you hate it?

        • Tux the Penguin says:

          @hegemonyhog: Well, in their report the Obama administration said that they could eliminate 30% of the Medicare spending as it was “waste”. Wait a minute, if Medicare, which is a VASTLY smaller program than what is being proposed, is 30% waste, why not show that you can run it effectively before subjecting all of us to it.

          Oh, trust me Mr. Hedgemony Hog, if the federal budget were subjected to marking where in the Constitution it is authorized (even with implicit powers assumed) we could cut a whole hell of a lot of spending.

          And where in the Constitution does it say that we have a right to health care? Or that the government has the authority to provide it?

          • crashfrog says:

            @Tux the Penguin: And where in the Constitution does it say that we have a right to health care?

            Right there in the beginning, the Preamble, where it specifies that the Constitution is creating a government designed to “…provide for the general welfare.”

            The government has the authority to purchase whatever it requires to fulfill it’s constitutional obligations. You seem to think that the government purchasing health care supplies, facilities, and services somehow oversteps its bounds in a way that purchasing, say, a tank does not. How does that work in your mind?

            • SacraBos says:

              @crashfrog: History FAIL, Mr. Crash Frog. The phrase used in the Constitution is “…provide for the common defense, PROMOTE the general welfare, …”.

              So right there, your argument falls apart. But let’s assume it did. Why just Health Care? Why not housing? Food? Water? Jobs? Transportation? Why shouldn’t the government provide all these things for you, without cost or obligation, as part of your general welfare?

              • crashfrog says:

                @SacraBos: Promote, provide, w/e. It’s a nit-pick. Don’t you think the general welfare is promoted by health care?

                Why just Health Care? Why not housing? Food? Water? Jobs? Transportation?

                All things the government has a hand in regulating and providing. What’s your point?

                Why shouldn’t the government provide all these things for you, without cost or obligation

                I never said without cost or obligation. We pay taxes, remember? The simple truth here is that the government should provide health coverage – not necessarily health care itself – because it can do it cheaply and more effectively than the free market. The private insurance model of health coverage is a failure; it has been since its inception and that’s why 60% of Americans, including every single member of Congress, are on some form of public health care. Look, if it’s good enough for grandma, who has way more health care needs than I do, how can it not be good enough for you and I?

        • GuinevereRucker says:

          @hegemonyhog: I have no idea what percentage goes to wellfare. What is it?

          I don’t hate wellfare in principle. I hate the fact that people abuse it. Like… my wife works in a special ed school. One single mom has nine kids and collects wellfare perpetually for all of them. She won’t let them work because she’ll lose the check. So the kids sell drugs and make more money! So yeah, stories like that are kinda why I hate wellfare.

  5. TheDustball says:

    I’ll support this when they also remove tax-exempt status from churches and religious organizations.

    • arthurborko says:

      @TheDustball: Amen!

    • HiPwr says:

      @TheDustball: Except for Muslims and Scientologists. We don’t want to piss them off.

    • Esquire99 says:

      @TheDustball:
      I agree. Why not tax churches? Seems like a good way to fill a tax gap. Some of these mega-churches are serious cash-cows. Why shouldn’t they pay taxes on that income?

    • Megalomania says:
      • TheDustball says:

        @Megalomania: Disregarding the fact that I like that idea, I think the fact that they have tax-exemption is a “slippery slope” the other direction anyway since they don’t really deserve it.

        They should just be taxed like any other corporation, no more or less. No special status either way.

        • HiPwr says:

          @TheDustball: I agree. Let’s get rid of all non-profits.

        • Esquire99 says:

          @TheDustball:
          @Megalomania:
          I agree with TheDustball. Given the fairly transparent nature of taxation these days, it would become plainly obvious if they were being taxed discriminatorily. I think the slippery slope argument is pretty weak, and it’s raised as a general defense against church taxation because there is no good reason not to tax them. Tax them like a corporation; the ones who don’t make much money don’t pay much in taxes; the ones that rake in multi-millions per year pay more in taxes, just like every other business. They’ll be entitled to deductions and credits just like everyone else. Fair and equitable.

      • MooseOfReason says:

        @Megalomania: Well, you could count it as unconstitutional, since it’s “respecting an establishment of religion”.

      • Antiks says:

        @Megalomania: Suppressing religious thought and dogma would be a GOOD thing.

    • GuinevereRucker says:

      @TheDustball: Funny how everyone always spews “separation of church and state” on every single issue they can, and then when it comes to putting their greedy little paws on donation money they aren’t so separatist any more.

      • friendlynerd says:

        @GuinevereRucker:
        It’s funny how churches get their paws deep, deep into politics and expect a tax exemption.

        • HiPwr says:

          @friendlynerd: I’m sure you find political activism of people like the Reverend Al Sharpton, the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Father Pfleger, and the Reverend Jeremiah Wright pretty disdainful, but I don’t think they should be punished by taxing their churches. Sure, they say dispicable things, but they also do positive things in their communities as well. Would you tax them before, or after they spend money to feed homeless people or provide shelters in the winter?

          • wallspray says:

            @HiPwr: Before

          • wrjohnston91283 says:

            @HiPwr:

            It would be after – those would be ordinary business expenses like any other business that is taxed. The church is in the business off providing services to the community. What will probably happen is we will see all churches start to operate on a break even basis – spending all money they take in so there is no tax (which is what many small businesses do). So tax revenue may not go up, but services will. This of course is assuming that churchs ARE operating with a massive surplus of income over expenses right, which I have not looked at any of the evidence to support that theory.

            • nataku8_e30 says:

              @wrjohnston91283: I think most churches do NOT operate with a massive income surplus, especially if they are properly operated. Megachurches, on the other hand, DO operate with massive income surpluses. There are several around Houston with multi-million dollar, decked out buildings, and incredibly gaudy and inappropriate displays of religious fanaticism. A church about 5 miles from me put up a 170 foot tall cross right next to the highway, so now anyone driving by is forced to look at it. This is not the type of pious religious organization that should be tax exempt…

              [swamplot.com]

              • GuinevereRucker says:

                @nataku83: My wife and I run a house church. We have zero dollars in overhead, and 100% of our contributions go to needs we determine. No insurance, no overhead, no building, no pastor salary… it’s kinda neat :)

              • HiPwr says:

                @nataku83: I’m glad we have you to determine what is “inappropriate displays of religious fanaticism.” Maybe you can head up the new agency tasked with rooting out what religious displays are appropriate and those that are not.

                • nataku8_e30 says:

                  @HiPwr: I never stated that I was offering a legal definition, and I hate it when they write laws that use words like “appropriate” or “excessive.” However, as an individual, I think I am perfectly qualified to make a judgement as to what is and isn’t an inappropriate display of religious fanaticism. I also think that megachurches are businesses that create a religious facade to try to generate money – they are no more religious than our former president who simply tried to exploit religion for votes. If an organization is truly a non-profit, there won’t be any profits to tax, like GuinevereRucker’s church.

                  • HiPwr says:

                    @nataku83: Yes, you are certainly entitled to be judgemental.

                    My point is that someone needs to determine where operating costs stop and profits start for a church. If a mosque wants to put a huge gold crescent on its roof, who’s going to make the decision whether that money spent is from profit or simply money needed to decorate a house of God (or, Allah in my example)?

                    • nataku8_e30 says:

                      @HiPwr: Well, I would assume that flagrant displays of religious fanaticism would not be part of the profits of the church and therefore not taxable, most of which generally goes toward church leaders, and may therefore already be taxed, I don’t know. I do know that there are a lot of mega-church ministers around here living in 5000+ square foot mansions. Ultimately though, I don’t feel that churches should be taxed – I just think that health care benefits shouldn’t be taxed either.

          • nakedscience says:

            @HiPwr: The “but churches do SOME GOOD THINGS!” argument is tired.

            The Pope also tells people condoms causes AIDS.

            • HiPwr says:

              @nakedscience: Please provide a link to the Pope’s statement that “condoms causes AIDS”.

              Also – how about private universities like Yale? Should we tax them, too?

          • jamar0303 says:

            @HiPwr: A better example would be the Mormon church and California’s Prop. 8.

            • HiPwr says:

              @jamar0303: That may be a better example because I suspect nakedscience pulled that statement out of his/her ass.

              Would you be whining about the Mormons if they were in favor of Prop 8? How about all of those black ministers that felt the same way as the Mormons?

              • jamar0303 says:

                @HiPwr: They WERE in favor of it. And no matter what religion, I want them out of the law-making and constitutional amendment process. That’s what “separation of church and state” is really about.

        • Posthaus says:

          @friendlynerd:

          I always agreed with the late George Carlin, who pretty much said if [organized religion] are going to get into politics they should be expected to pay into it like the rest of us.

        • giggitygoo says:

          @friendlynerd:

          I wonder if you feel unions should also have their tax-exempt status taken away as well then – since they not only endorse but also donate to political candidates. (Which churches cannot do)

      • Anonymous says:

        @GuinevereRucker:

        As if “separation of church and state” is even in the constitiution. The phrase came from a private letter written by Thomas Jefferson. The constitution only bars establishment of a state religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

        As for redistribution of wealth, I think it’s much more useful to redistribute the wealth to my student loans than to someone else’s medical coverage. So many “uninsured” (read: illegal or unwilling to work due to laziness, addictions or some other self-derived reason) come to the hospital for no particularly good reason (i.e. “I’ve had a cough, 2 times, beginning today). Perhaps education in basic medical care would help rather than a free ticket to the ER every time. It’s surprising that those with health insurance are less likely to run to the hospital. Why? Because they don’t want to pay a deductible. Socialism, and the resulting rationing of care, is not the cure. Proper use of resources will go a long way toward remedying the problem.
        And yes, I do know what I’m taking about because I was a paramedic for many years and am now an ER nurse.

    • jswilson64 says:

      @TheDustball: Regardless of whether this is a good idea, what the heck does it have to do with healthcare?

    • morlo says:

      @TheDustball: Private colleges really need to be taxed too

  6. HiPwr says:

    I believe John McCain suggested this during the presidental campaign. Term limits for all these SOBs in Congress please! We’re not going to suffer through Obama for more than eight years, why can’t we amend the Constitution to give these Republicans/Democrats (is there really a difference?) in Congress the boot, too?

    • henwy says:

      @HiPwr:

      It just goes to show that being a two-faced sob in politics pays dividens. Yes we can, my ass.

    • morgasco says:

      @HiPwr: I think that was the intention by our nations founders, you go and serve the public, then go back to your job. Having it be a career just makes it that much easier to lose touch with “real people”.

    • SacraBos says:

      @HiPwr: I don’t like “term limits” as an absolute. How about “consecutive term limits”. You sit for two terms, then you are required to step down for at least 1 term. Then, if you’re good enough, maybe you can get re-elected for another term or two.

      There are lots of bright people out there that could be valuable contributors, except for these career politicians that hold their seats for decades.

      From the Notebooks of Lazarus Long: Never vote for the incumbent.

  7. bohemian says:

    It was a turd of an idea when McCain proposed it during the election and it is a turd now. We already pay an insane about of money every year between premiums and out of pocket that insurance doesn’t cover. On a good year health care costs exceed any other bill including our mortgage.

    Way too many people are struggling right now with lay offs and wage cuts. Yea make it an even bigger burden.

    There are plenty of good ideas to fix health insurance, this is not one of them.

    • cabjf says:

      @bohemian: I don’t understand why we focus on a small minority of people without coverage before focusing on how expensive it is to begin with. I know, covering those uninsured adds to health insurance costs, but maybe if insurance was more affordable, more of those uninsured would get insurance. How about reasonable limits on how much you can sue a doctor for? Or stop constantly mandating so much on the insurance companies at both the federal and state level without providing funding for it. You want to know why health care is so expensive? It’s already partly the government’s fault. And we want them to take over insurance coverage all together?

    • AliyaBabasaur says:

      @bohemian: Except that insuring the uninsured will lower your existing tax burden over time. Your tax dollars already pay for health care for the uninsured – in emergency rooms where the cost of care is high, and where often people have waited to address a health concern until it’s very bad and costly to treat. Preventative care lowers health care costs to the taxpayer over time. I’m not just making this up – look it up.

  8. frank64 says:

    Silly you. When McCain talked it about it was a mean Republican, now it is a nice Obama, big difference.

    • Jim Topoleski says:

      @frank64: Is it Obama? Last I looked Obama and the Democratic congress dont walk hand and hand. Just because some congressmen put it forward doesnt mean Obama would go with it.

      • frank64 says:

        @Jim Topoleski: No, you are right. But it made the headlines today that he wasn’t ruling it out. I don’t think he actually likes the idea. One reason may be his campaign stance. But he can have the best of both world by “reluctantly”letting the Dem Congress have their way. Just how politics works.

        • HiPwr says:

          @frank64: He also said that he was going to take public financing for his campaign, so I don’t think he is too averse to “changing his mind.”

          • SBR249 says:

            @HiPwr: Why let a pesky little campaign promise get in the way of becoming the most powerful person on the planet?

    • Hongfiately says:

      @frank64: And do we get the $5,000 individual and $10,000 family tax credit to cover the cost of purchasing our own health insurance? What? We don’t?

      • frank64 says:

        @Hongfiately: Yeah, that would be out the door. Even some mainstream health experts during the campaing were saying it was actually the lower cost idea for lower income with the tax credit. Details don’t sell well in a campaign. It is why we are in the mess we are in so many issues.

      • Hongfiately says:

        @Hongfiately: Whoops, it was $2,500/$5,000.

  9. smileboot says:

    Just make a socialised healthcare system already. S**t or get off the pot I say.

    • FaustianSlip says:

      @smileboot: Agree. I’ve lived in two different countries with nationalized health care now (actually had to have full-blown surgery and a hospital stay in one), and I was very satisfied with the quality of care I received. Far more satisfied than I was here in the good old U.S. of A. with our fabulously advanced system, in which my father died as the result of medical malpractice. Whoops. Guess his doctor didn’t get the memo that we’re supposed to have better quality of care here.

      I sometimes wonder whether those who are so adamantly against any sort of nationalized health system have ever actually lived in a country that has one. I know most of the people I’ve spoken two about this in person have not. Here, I have no idea.

      • Megalomania says:

        @FaustianSlip: yes, because one doctor who was tired or forgot one thing for one moment means that the system is broken. I’m sure you sued, since you’re so ready to claim malpractice. That means that the hospital’s insurance goes up, the doctor’s insurance goes up and he possibly loses his job, and so the cost we all have to pay goes up and there might be one less doctor, leaving more burden on the others. We are so damn fabulously advanced but people have unreasonable assumptions about what it means to be advanced – it means we have the ability, but as always, your mileage may vary.

      • henwy says:

        @FaustianSlip:

        Is this the same general idea as one has to live in a communist country before rejecting communism or one actually has to live in France before mocking the French?

      • I Love New Jersey says:

        @FaustianSlip: Can you explain why you find a lot of large hospitals right near the Canadian border on the US side?

        • hegemonyhog says:

          @I Love New Jersey: Probably because Canada spends less than half as much per capita on health care as we do. Also because Canada’s struggling with nativist rules that make a foreign-born doctor’s attempt to become a doctor in Canada nearly impossible, meaning the country has a dearth of doctors of all types. And a lot of highly educated taxi drivers.

          They have a comprehensive health care system that largely works despite these stupid steps – imagine what would happen if we fixed Canada’s problems!

          • greenunicorns says:

            @hegemonyhog:

            WOW you are a tool aren’t you?? Hospitals are businesses. Businesses pop up because of a surplus in DEMAND, not a surplus in SUPPLY.

            There are lots of hospitals in America because the doctors are spilling over from canada? I highly doubt that. It’s far more likely that there is a load of hospitals on the border because PATIENTS are spilling over.

    • jswilson64 says:

      @smileboot: You mean besides Medicare and Medicaid? You want another one?

  10. WraithSama says:

    After we pay Federal income tax, state income tax, county/local tax, social security tax, medicare tax, sales tax on our purchases, excise taxes, auto taxes, et al., we all pay about 50% of our total income in taxes. I am utterly unwilling to nod approval toward any more bills that will summarily increase our taxes in any way.

    We don’t need more taxes. We’re already being taxed to death. The government needs to stop throwing money away and carefully examine where fat can be trimmed (there is so, so much of it but one side or another will always claim this or that spending is necessary…) and all that needed money for other programs will magically appear.

    • HiPwr says:

      @WraithSama: I’ll take the wind out of someone’s sail and ask “where were you when the GOP controlled government & were spending like it was going out of style?”

      I don’t know where you were, but I was raising hell about that too. The justification from the hyper-partisans for massive waste and abuse always seems to be “the other party did it too”.

      Let’s get past that crap and stop this out-of-control spending now. We could probably pay for socialized medicine and a lot of other things if we just trimmed down excesses. That’s REAL change, not rhetoric.

    • GuinevereRucker says:

      @WraithSama: Yay, totally agree! I almost don’t care any more who’s spending it all, it just has to stop.

    • TEW says:

      @WraithSama: The GOP was one of the worst things possible during the last 6 years. They cut taxes and increased services. Sadly the Democrats are doing the same thing. If you asked any 8th grader if that is a good idea they would tell you it is bad. We need to cut programs and cut taxes. I am not going to be popular but we must stop the entitlement programs like food stamps, welfare, unemployment, and public housing. If you think they are worthy causes then donate your money but stay away from mine. The spending by both parties has made us slaves to the Chinese and our other debt holders.

      • SonicMan says:

        @TEW: Cut Unemployment? Thats not an entitlement. Thats insurance.
        Now I would be willing to float the Idea that if you do not want unemployment insurance, they you should not have to pay it, so no benefits.

        • TEW says:

          @SonicMan: I worked 5 years as a contractor and paid into the SSI all that time. I cannot receive unemployment because of my contractor status. A lot of unemployed college graduates who have not reached the point where they can collect unemployment are out of luck as well. Also any small business owner who has had his/ her sales cut can’t get unemployment as well because they own a company.

      • crashfrog says:

        @TEW: Defense spending is the single greatest entitlement program in the Federal budget. Instead of cutting back on programs that keep kids from starving to death, why don’t we build less stealth bombers? We equip our army to fight against countries that haven’t existed in two decades.

        That’s an entitlement program. We could have two health care systems for what we needlessly spend on defense. And I’m only talking about at most a 15% cut in total defense spending.

        But for some reason, Republicans think it’s more important to be able to bomb the Soviet Union – which doesn’t exist – than to provide health care to millions of Americans, and provide aid to millions of businesses struggling with ballooning health care costs. Why is that, exactly?

    • I Love New Jersey says:

      @WraithSama: Taxing and spending is out of control. The fools in Washington and (insert state capital here) don’t seem to understand this and get all sorts of pork for those who bought and paid for them. We need term limits at all levels of government to get rid of these career politicians who are basically looking out for the interests of those who fund them.

      • hegemonyhog says:

        @I Love New Jersey: Do you live in a state with term limits? They’re terrible. What they do is ensure that elected representatives become even more ideologically strident, and lead to all sorts of manipulations and juggling of seats in order to maintain power. It also ensures that good representatives are pushed out just as bad ones are, and usually entrenches single-party rule in a given area rather than breaking it up.

        • BluePlastic says:

          @hegemonyhog: The only thing I can think of is to sequester Congress while they’re in session and for a while before sessions to keep them from getting in bed with lobbyists. I know that wouldn’t really work. But they have to be held accountable for the lobbyist thing. I have to think that there is so much unnecessary spending that could be cut that wouldn’t even have to affect core programs like Medicaid, Medicare, welfare, etc., if we could just cut the pork that the lobbyists pull out.

    • Antiks says:

      @WraithSama: We should be taxed more. The government is currently spending WAY more than it takes in, and it needs more funding. Of course, our fearless leaders would just piss the extra tax money away too.

  11. Keter says:

    I’ve almost never had health insurance and never needed it. I have an HSA for incidentals. I single-parented a child while making barely above minimum wage without coverage or government assistance – it wasn’t easy but it was possible.

    All I want is affordable major medical only for myself and my current (retired) husband, to cover injuries due to major accidents or catastrophic illness. I can’t even find a provider who will write this sort of policy at all. So I don’t carry insurance and figure on dying if something too expensive occurs. I’m cool with that – it’s called personal choice and responsibility.

    At this point in my life – closing in on retirement age myself – under no circumstances will I pay out of pocket for insurance, and under no circumstances will I accept the usual employer-provided insurance, which costs money from my paycheck I need to save and, based on the experiences of my coworkers, won’t cover anything anyway.

    I am entirely against socialized medicine – it has destroyed the quality and accessibility of health care everywhere it has been implemented – and no one I know wants to participate in it and we all consider mandatory health insurance to be highway robbery and a reason to move elsewhere.

    At what point will the government take NO, LEAVE ME ALONE for an answer?

    • ideagirl says:

      @Keter: do you have an actual hsa tied to an insurance paln, or a savings account you set aside for medical expenses? Because most hsa plans do cover major medical, while you pay for the incidentals out of your hsa.

      • morgasco says:

        @ideagirl: I think they meant an FSA based on the talk below about not being on the health insurance. Having a HSA that you can use tax advantaged would require them having a high deductible health plan, so says the IRS.

    • gaywolverine says:

      @Keter: SINGLE PAYER INIVERSAL HEALTH CARE HAS WORKED SUCCESSFULLY IN EVERY COUNTRY IT HAS BEEN IMPLEMENTED. YOU HAPPEN TO BE LUCKY TO HAVE NOT NEEDED IT, BUT GUESS WHAT, YOU HAVE ONE ACCIDENT AND DIE AS A “SINGLE PARENTS” GUESS WHO HAS TO RAISE THE BRAT YOU BROUGHT INTO THE WORLD. YOU GOT LUCKY, SO DONT PREACH ABOUT PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY; IT WAS PERSONAL LUCK

      • OrlandoDude says:

        @gaywolverine: ha ha ha ha ha ha.

        Oh wait, you ‘re serious?

      • Anonymous says:

        @gaywolverine:

        What country was this? Long waits for anything, sub-par care (a friend of mine recently had her father die in Spain b/c of flagrant malpractice, with no recourse), and higher taxes to boot? For those who were visiting or not permanent residents that used a socialized system, I’m sure it looked great. Looking at the overuse of the system, EMS and the general waste and misallotment of resources are more far-reaching issues. Socialized systems that allow private insurance are great, because a person can continue to pay extra for better care and get it. Where on earth you can find “success” is beyond me. I’ve seen both and thank you, I’ll tak emy system in the U.S. if I seriously ill or injured.

      • David Schwartz says:

        @gaywolverine: What country has single payer universal health care that works successfully? Canada doesn’t. Great Britain doesn’t. Sweden doesn’t. What country is this glowing success you’re talking about?

        Or does success not actually require that people *get* health care?

        • crashfrog says:

          @David Schwartz: More people get the health care they need in those countries than they do in the US – judged by any metric that’s true – and they pay about half as much.

          Canada does. The UK does. France does, Germany does; we’re something like 27th in the rankings of quality of health care. Behind all those other countries where you say nobody can get quality health care.

    • frank64 says:

      @Keter: In a perfect world your plan is the best. The whole system is too entrenched.
      When I was a kid, you paid as you go as a rule and that worked OK. The thing is government and insurance has allowed everyone involved in our health-care to raise the price again, and again.

      I went to the a hospital without insurance, they charged me 2-3 times as much as they would an insurance company. You need it or they screw you.

    • GuinevereRucker says:

      @Keter: I was doing what you are for years. Then, my stupid liberal state of Massachusetts decided to pass “universal health care” laws. These laws don’t really do anything except make it a law that you MUST have health insurance.

      So now, I can either spend tons of money out of pocket to have insurance I don’t want, or I can get penalized the same amount on my taxes.

      Don’t come to live in Taxachusetts.

      • Skankingmike says:

        @GuinevereRucker: oh please you think Mass has high taxes? try living in NJ or CT seriously.

      • smonkey says:

        @GuinevereRucker: I live in MA, and that law was the reason I got married (wife needed Health insurance and it was the cheaper option) for a person bring in $10/ hour the cheapest plan the state (or any company offered) was $300 a month for 20 something male. Thankfully the fine for not having it was only half that….

    • BluePlastic says:

      @Keter: I love it when people come on and talk about how they almost never need health care. Kind of like the people who come on and say they make all their own soup and pizza from scratch and pay their credit cards off in full every month. Excuse those of us who have a health condition that requires regular care. Or I guess I could just stop going to the doctor and hope my thyroid cancer doesn’t return. But I guess it’s my fault I had thyroid cancer.

      • BluePlastic says:

        @BluePlastic: To add: I know it’s not anyone else’s fault, either, but I also don’t think it’s fair for me to be crushed by the cost of thyroidectomy and a yearly ultrasound and Thyrogen stim test.

        I also love when I see editorials about how if people had to pay more of their own health costs they would spend more wisely. Yeah, I just rush out to have a Thyrogen test because I love spending money. Ugh.

        • TheFlamingoKing says:

          @BluePlastic: What’s more fair?

          a) You pay for the health issues that affect you.
          b) I pay for the health issues that affect you.

          I don’t think it’s fair that you have health issues. But life is not fair. Taxing people more is not going to make it more fair, it’s just going to trade one issue of “fairness” for another.

          As for your second point, I think the point many people make is that people are completely disconnected from the actual cost of health services, and thus, have no ability to price shop. I wouldn’t go out and buy the first TV I saw at the store, I’d do my homework and research brands and costs, and find the one that best works for me. If there was a real market in healthcare, a new doctor could choose to charge less for procedures in order to gain market share. Instead, he just hits up the insurance company for the max amount he can, often running tests and additional procedures that are not needed, but since the Insurance will cover it, what’s the big deal? Insurance then hits up the companies and people that pay for it for higher and higher premiums, and so on, and so on…

          In the end, I don’t support this, because it extends the belief that the government owns me, owns first rights to my salary and will take it by force if necessary. I’m sorry people have health problems.

          • GuinevereRucker says:

            @TheFlamingoKing: Good points there. I like what you said about the “market” for health services.

          • BluePlastic says:

            @TheFlamingoKing: I said that, someone else shouldn’t have to pay for my health care, but there’s no g-damn way I can pay for it all myself, and if they tax me too much there’s no way I’ll be able to afford health insurance anymore OR to pay for it out of pocket.

            I’m just tired of people who don’t use it much posting how they don’t use it like it’s some big accomplishment. Sure, taking care of yourself helps, but it can’t prevent everything. It’s at least some matter of luck and genetics and I’m tired of hearing what bums those of us who need health care are.

            • BluePlastic says:

              @BluePlastic: I keep adding things! Also, to some extent we all pay taxes for social programs that we may or may not ever use.

              I sure don’t have the solution.

          • BluePlastic says:

            @TheFlamingoKing: Insurance is the one who is making us “disconnected” from the real cost, if that’s part of the problem. How can we price shop if the plan we’re on requires certain doctors (as mine does, it’s basically an HMO)? There’s nowhere to really go to find out if you really need this or that except a second opinion – no real way to find out if something would be cheaper and just as good or whatever. And for some things, there’s a certain standard-of-care treatment that’s just unavoidable.

            • the_wiggle says:

              @BluePlastic: even if you do ask, they tend to tap dance or out right lie about their prices. challenge’m on those & get a sob story about how they have to charge ME more because they don’t get paid enough by the insurance companies.

            • TheFlamingoKing says:

              @BluePlastic: Agreed. I’m saying the system is currently broken because it’s not a market. The pushback is often “you can’t price compare for a heart-attack” which I totally agree with – but preventative care and non-emergency care can definitely be more competitive.

              However, I don’t agree with forcing every person to buy insurance, and in fact I think that helps prop up this broken system even more. I actually agree in principle with health savings accounts for some, especially for the young.

              Basically, health care is complicated enough to merit not having a single solution mandated by the government as being the best and only option.

          • Antiks says:

            @TheFlamingoKing: If you pay health insurance, you’re still subsidizing other people. It’s not an either/or solution either. The absence of the current system does NOT mean we’d have socialized medicine.

            • TheFlamingoKing says:

              @Antiks: Agreed. Only with a free market solution, I have a choice.

              Freedom.

              With a single payer government mandated solution, I have no choice. It’s forced, and if I don’t pay, it’s likely I’ll be assaulted, arrested, and imprisoned.

              The opposite of freedom.

        • HogwartsAlum says:

          @BluePlastic:

          I’m hypothyroid and have to take the pills every day and do the level check every year. Lucky the pills are cheap or I’d be pretty messed up. I do have insurance, but I’ve had to get them without it too.

          They just charge too much for preventive or maintenance care. If they didn’t want so much for that, people wouldn’t be so drastically sick that they had to be hospitalized, etc. And then there are things like cancer, which can strike out of the blue.

  12. mac-phisto says:

    would i support this? no. that is, unless some provision in the bill redefines “groups” so that small businesses can afford coverage that’s equitable to what larger companies provide.

    right now, i work in a small office & quite frankly, my coverage is expensive & not really that great. $10,000/year – that’s the cost. no vision, the dental plan is atrocious, scrips are expensive unless they are mainstream/generics & every year i get a new 20-page booklet of exclusions.

    if you want me to pay more for my coverage then i expect my employer to be able to participate in group plans with other employers so that the cost of my coverage can go down, my benefits can go up or some combination of the two.

    • morgasco says:

      @mac-phisto: I think what makes it even better is the fact that this would hit those in Unionized plans the most, almost all of the non-union business have gone the way of the HDHP/HSA, canning the co-pay plans, yet almost all the unions around here mandate the low deductible co-pay plans that easily equate into 3-4k monthly in premiums for a family of 4. Imagine the tax bill for that union member at year end with premiums in excess of 48k on the health alone. I don’t think that thought entered Obama’s head..

    • jswilson64 says:

      @mac-phisto: How can you redefine “group” so that 20 people get the same rate as 200 or 2000? Insurance works by pooling premium dollars to pay claims. Those who don’t get sick very much wind up paying for those who do. So if you only have 20 people, that’s only 20 premiums going into the pool to pay for someone’s major illness.

      If you can figure out how to make it work, first get a patent/trademark or something on it, then take it to the major insurers, and retire somewhere where it’s always 82 degrees, the water is clear and the drinks are cold.

      • mac-phisto says:

        @jswilson64: the way it can be done is by allowing groups to exist outside of the traditional “1 employer, 1 pool”. for example, many small businesses belong to an industry association, yet state/federal laws prohibit them from claiming group status thru that association. simply enact legislation that allows membership groups to also pool as insurance groups.

        this isn’t even a revolutionary idea. many non-traditional “groups” (industry associations, credit unions, alumni associations, private organizations) combine pools for other types of insurance – car, home, business, life, etc. to provide discounts to participants, yet insurers have succeeded in blocking that same right for health insurance.

  13. Hongfiately says:

    McCain’s plan included removing the exemption from taxation of employer-provided plans, but also replaced it with tax credits to offset the purchase of private health insurance ($2,500 for individuals and $5,000 for families — had the amounts wrong in earlier comments). The tax credit information always seems to get left out of most discussions.

    I’m totally up for discussion ironing out the details, but I’m all for removing any and all tax impact on healthcare and for maximizing portability rather than trying to achieve universal coverage.

    • yasth says:

      @Hongfiately: Eh McCain was taxing all of the employee provided, while providing a laughably small tax shield. It more or less would have amounted to a tax increase on working families.

      This by contrast is somewhat more restrained, it eats only what would be kick ins significantly over average. Most businesses that provide a very high kick in are effectively paying their already highly paid employees a bit more tax free. So it is an equity issue, and this allows firms to provide good insurance without it being a tax free money channel.

      • xip says:

        @yasth:

        I don’t think McCain’s idea would have amounted to a tax increase. As an individual, I believe the total cost of my health insurance per month is ~$500. That amounts to $6000 a year. I’m pretty sure my tax rate isn’t 40%, so McCain’s $2500 would have more than covered any extra taxes incurred.

  14. nova3930 says:

    Yay, just what I need, 40% or 45% of my income disappearing before I ever see it instead of 33%. Somebody tell me again why the hell I get up and go to work every day again….

    • henwy says:

      @nova3930:

      So that the homeless can have granite countertops of course.

    • hegemonyhog says:

      @Duckula22: Yep, that’s the only reason people lack health insurance – they went out and bought Air Jordans and Coach purses and drank expensive liquor while they ate McDonald’s because STEREOTYPE!

      • Skankingmike says:

        @hegemonyhog: There are those, there are those that are drunks, druggies, and losers.

        And then there are those self employed, contractors, freelancers, and legitimately poor types.

        Though I still don’t understand that last one.

        My parents were “poor” hell my dad never graduated high school.

        He JOIN THE MILITARY, and then got a damn job in a factory where he got GASP! health insurance for me and my mother.

        Seriously if one job doesn’t pay the rent and medical get a second or find a better one.

        • superberg says:

          @Skankingmike:

          Because with 10% unemployment, and even higher under-employment, the problem is that no one wants a good job.

          Right.

        • crashfrog says:

          @Skankingmike: He JOIN THE MILITARY

          Uh-huh. Did he fight in a war while he was in? No? Then how was what he did any different than welfare? His room and board still came out of my tax dollars.

          • Skankingmike says:

            @crashfrog: Ops meant he JOINED, and yes actually it was 1979 Iranian Conflict the Cold War and some other little issues here and there.

            Also you’re statement is filled with ignorance they get paid crap, and they work hard for their “room and board”

            @superberg: What does that have to with Uninsured people?

            @grumpygirl: yes they do and back in the 1980s’ they did as well.

        • grumpygirl says:

          @Skankingmike: They still have factory jobs in the US?

    • jswilson64 says:

      @nova3930: Because Sea Wolf submarines, tanks, stealth aircraft, and equipping soldiers costs a lot of money.

  15. Anonymous says:

    To I Love New Jersey:

    As someone long uninsured and employed, I would say that we currently have UPWARD redistribution from the working uninsured to (largely) the working insured.

    If worker Joe is paid $25K with no employer-provided benefits, and Bob is paid $22K with a generous fringe package, please tell me why Joe should pay more tax than Bob, even though Bob is better off than Joe?

    If that is not redistribution, what do you call it?

  16. kadath217 says:

    To be fair, there is a substantial difference in these plans: McCain wanted to tax these benefits, give a small portion back as a credit, and encourage more people to buy plans on “the market”. It included no plans expand insurance coverage to people who are currently uninsured, and would not have helped those who are limited by a pre-existing condition.

    This current plan wants to use a similar tax, but use the proceeds to pay for a public option plan that will (in theory) drive down healthcare costs for everyone. The public option plan, in theory, will be a more affordable option for those without coverage and will accept those “higher-risk” folks with pre-existing conditions.

    Unions, whose workers have worked for years to get more generous health packages from employers, obviously stand to lose more from this.

  17. Skankingmike says:

    that has to be one of the dumbest ideas congress could come up with.

    I’d rather not pay taxes on the current broken system and instead pay taxes and not fees towards a national plan.

    Seriously if nothing else at least regulate the coverage and put a cannot decline clause in insurance policies. I think that would be better reform than this crap.

  18. jstonemo says:

    Can someone please explain to me how putting everyone on insurance will lower medical costs? Doesn’t it sound like transferring tax money to the greedy health insurance companies while making us all feel all googly inside that everyone is now covered?

    • David Schwartz says:

      @jstonemo: The theory is:

      1) Today, you’re already paying for those who don’t pay their medical bills. Hospitals and doctors have to stay in business and they have to provide critical services regardless of ability to pay. So the cost of those services gets figured into their rates. Reducing that problem would result in lower medical care costs for those who do pay.

      2) Right now, the risk insurance risk pool is biased towards people with the highest health care costs. Medicare, for example, covers largely older people and poorer people who tend to have higher health care costs overall. Broadening the risk pool could result in lower costs for the pool as a whole.

      Again, that’s the theory.

    • oneandone says:

      @jstonemo: @David Schwartz: To add to the theory: providing better health care for everyone could reduce your chance of illness. I don’t know if putting everyone on an insurance plan = better health care (I doubt it) but the fundamental idea is that a society cannot be healthy if there is a large part of it that is unhealthy.

      Having a large population w/o access to preventive care and non-catastrophic treatment doesn’t just have ramifications for the cost of health insurance, it actually makes us sicker. The easiest example is with infectious diseases: the more people walking around your area with TB, the greater chance you have of getting it. Isn’t it in your interest that everyone have access to screening & treatment so that you don’t get sick?

  19. Cicada says:

    Guess what, if you are paying for health insurance you are already paying for the uninsured. Hospitals adjust their billing to insurance companies so that the expenses accrued by treating uninsured patients are covered.

    If you don’t like it, petition your congressional representatives to introduce legislation to allow hospitals to dump the uninsured in the streets. What do you care if they die, as long as you don’t have to pay more. Amirite?

    • Alys Brangwin says:

      @Cicada: If they’d rather die, then they’d better do it! It would decrease the surplus population!

    • I Love New Jersey says:

      @Cicada: Simple – if you have insurance or can otherwise pay you get seen first. All others wait or go to the crappy city hospital. The exception would of course be obvious life or death emergencies.

      • David Schwartz says:

        @I Love New Jersey: If you tell people they can’t get care until they have life or death emergencies, every health problem will be a life or death emergency. You’ll have a kid who needs $250,000 surgery because nobody treated his cavity.

        • morgasco says:

          @David Schwartz: Or the system now, you give them free state health insurance they go to the emergency room for everything from refills on OTC medications they take, to a hangnail….

    • TheFlamingoKing says:

      @Cicada: Guess what, if I am paying for health insurance then it’s a willing exchange of money for services. There’s no coercion or force. Even if through my employer, I still willingly work for that employer, and can leave whenever I want. Freedom.

      If politicians want to increase my taxes to pay for others, that is not willing exchange. That is theft by force. I have no choice in the matter, if I do not pay the government will take my property or imprison me. The opposite of Freedom.

      Your reductio ad absurdum argument does not work on me. Somehow, I believe there is a middle ground between the government sticking guns in my face to pay for other people and throwing welfare babies on the street…

    • crashfrog says:

      @Cicada: No, it’s actually the reverse that is true – insurance companies negotiate lower rates for goods and services from hospitals and pharma companies, therefore those hospitals and companies increase the prices on the uninsured to compensate.

      It’s actually the case that the uninsured are subsidizing your care, not the other way around.

      If you don’t like it, petition your congressional representatives to introduce legislation to allow hospitals to dump the uninsured in the streets.

      That’s already completely legal, and hospitals do that.

  20. Squeezer99 says:

    “Would you be willing to pay more in taxes in order to fund a more equitable health care program for the nation’s uninsured?” My reply: Hell no.

  21. Duckula22 says:

    Hell No! I’m 35, and I chose not to have children, not to put an unnecessary burden on me, and on society, while the least earning groups of society multiply like freakin’ rabbits. People who today find themselves in a tough spot is just because they assumed years ago that life would be abundant, that God would provide, and all that mumbo jumbo. So NO, I’m not in favor of this.

  22. thefunnyone says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but wouldn’t everyone doing this (paying this tax) result in lower premiums (because it would result in lower healthcare costs) and hence, lower taxes? I could be assuming too much (or just totally naive about the whole thing), but I thought the point of this was to lower healthcare costs for everyone. If everyone’s costs (currently uninsured and current insured), does that lower the costs the insurance company and the premiums overall?

  23. thepill says:

    “Would you be willing to pay more in taxes in order to fund a more equitable health care program for the nation’s uninsured?”

    Yes, I would. But what I don’t like about this plan is that it ties us even more firmly to the idea of an employer-sponsored health care system. Regardless of what would replace it, tying your job and your health care together has never been a good idea.

  24. t-r0y says:

    If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free.

    P.J. O’Rourke – 1993

  25. takes_so_little says:

    I’m scared shitless that, even though I’m supposedly covered through my employer, if me or someone in my family gets something serious or is in a major accident, that coverage will evaporate and we’ll be double-fucked, healthwise and financially also. And then there are all the uncovered Americans. I’m not a right- or lft- winger, I’m usually of the view that ALL problems are more complicated than we think, and this is a doozy. There are no simple solutions to complicated problems.

    I do believe that the change needs to be at the root level, something really fundmental. Socialism? Maybe, at least partly. I’m thinking more about regulation, like changing it somehow so it’s no longer in an insurance company’s best interest to deny a customer care. We need a fundamental shift in the way health care is paid for, I think. Remove the profit motive for letting sick people die untreated. How? I don’t know exactly, but that’s the conversation I would like to have.

    This might sound really leftist of me, but I don’t want the insurance companies at the table for that conversation.

    I’m afraid this kind of change is impossible, though. So many interests are so irmly entrenched, and it’s so easy to scare people when you’re talking about change.

    • HogwartsAlum says:

      @takes_so_little:

      I feel the same way…I don’t like that someone whose primary interest is making money to have total control over my health decisions. But what to do? You’re right; it’s too complicated for a on-size-fits-all solution.

      OH MAGIC GENIE, PLEASE HELP US!
      Oh wait…there’s no magic genie. Dammit! >:(

  26. lasbrisas says:

    I would support this. My medical coverage at works sucks and I pay through the nose for it. If I could get that money back (through increased salary) and buy my own insurance I know that I could get better coverage for the same money as long as I got a tax break for the new insurance cost. If everybody did this it would also stimulate better free market pricing in medical insurance and possibly the medical industry and in the end insurance rates would go down for everybody. To the naysayers, the taxes you pay would be the same as long as a) your employer gave you back the amount that he’s spending on your behalf for insurance, b) you use that money to buy private health insurance, and c) that we do in fact get a tax break on the cost of that insurance. I’m sure there’s a lot of details I’m overlooking, however, if it works as it should, it would be a good plan.

  27. kylere says:

    Sounds like another way of the government playing leveler between those who bust our heinies working everyday and those who screw off are set for another freebie. Bad enough every time I get decent raises they buy votes by raising the minimum wage.

    • JulesNoctambule says:

      @kylere: Because everyone who can’t afford private insurance or whose employer doesn’t offer it is just ‘screwing off’, right? What a narrow little world it is where you live.

      • Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

        @JulesNoctambule: It’s not even about just “affording” it either.. My husband and I work 4 part time jobs between us and when we tried to buy our own health insurance we were turned down left and right because of my “preexisting conditions.”

        You can’t buy what they won’t sell you.

      • kylere says:

        @JulesNoctambule: So, punish me because you have a problem?

        I worked hard, played the game and have bennies, I am tired of the republicans and democrats buying votes with my money.

    • takes_so_little says:

      @kylere: That’s beautiful. Were you quoting Jesus directly, or just paraphrasing?

  28. Saboth says:

    I am sick of this sh*t. I am tired of the hard working middle class footing the bill for all the lazy deadbeats of America. I didn’t go to school for 7 years and bust ass and rack up tons of student loans while currently working 50 hours a week so that all the people I see driving around with nothing to do during the day on welfare can enjoy better healthcare than I have, on my dime. Congress needs to look at the LEGAL SYSTEM first, putting caps on frivolous lawsuits against doctors, then look at reforming our out of control insurance companies and THEN you can look at further taxing the middle class. I am not for paying more taxes so a few individuals can have insurance. Either go with higher taxes for EVERYONE and universal healthcare, or stay out of it. As other people have mentioned, by the time you factor in all the sales tax, insurance premiums, deductions, federal tax, property tax, etc etc…most people are paying 40-50% in taxes already. Other countries have perfectly functioning universal healthcare at a 50% tax rate.

  29. Kid Awesome says:

    The problem with the healthcare system isn’t the healthcare sysem, IT’S THE INSURANCER SYSTEM!!! Most of the problems related to cost and coverage are a result of a broken insurance system that only helps itself. I have coverage through my work but it sucks, it’s expensive, and it doesn’t really cover that much. I don’t want a goverment controled healthcare but I don’t want an insurance controled one either.

    • takes_so_little says:

      @FoxHoundADAM: “The problem with the healthcare system…”

      …is multifaceted. Addressing a solution to just one aspect of it is doomed to fail.

  30. bgrigson says:

    What incentive would an employer have to go over the amount mandated by the government? Meaning The employer might as well go with the basic coverage that will no doubt suck so that employees are not taxed on the overage.

    Sounds like a raw deal.

  31. rellog321 says:

    This is ridiculous. Instead of going after the over-paid insurance, medical and pharma companies, they seek to tax us. How about putting limits on profits. I think they should be regulated like utilities are in WI.

  32. esd2020 says:

    “Would you be willing to pay more in taxes in order to fund a more equitable health care program for the nation’s uninsured?”

    Yes.

  33. superberg says:

    I already pay my insurance post-taxes. My employer’s health care package — which didn’t even include dental or vision — was 40% of my weekly pay. Absolute nonsense.

    Now I pay for my own coverage — and it’s less than 10% of my income.

    Granted, it’s pretty much just a prescription plan and emergency coverage, but thankfully its all I need. As one with friends in/formerly in several medical professions, I can say that our health care system is broken beyond recovery. We need something entirely new.

  34. TheFuzz53 says:

    This is fucking horseshit. IF this happens, I will drop my health coverage and just the hospital like all of the uninsured illegals do. I’m fucking tired of picking up everybody else’s slack.

  35. Gokuhouse says:

    Short answer, no. Long answer, I don’t see how all the money my employer pays into my health care for me can possibly be correct. It feels overinflated and I would feel as if I were being taxed on too high a price…There is no way I can pay 150 a month and my employer pay 850….It doesn’t seem possible it can really cost that much.

  36. Featherstonehaugh says:

    If emplorer provided health benefits were taxed, I would rather self insure. Employer pays the amount he would be paying to ins co directly to me. I get taxed either way, but at least I get to spend it the way I want.

  37. esc27 says:

    I instinctively hate the idea. It seems counter intuitive to punish people with insurance (By taxing them) in order to increase insurance coverage. However, there might be some merit to attacking health care costs from the top if it helps to bring all costs down. Maybe if the average health coverage amount dropped (due to the tax) then the average health costs would drop as well.

    • rellog321 says:

      @esc27: Without regulating the industries, they will just find new ways to make their profits. I like Congressman Steve Kagen’s idea. His theory is that if drug companies charge $1 for a drug in Mexico, it’s the price we should pay as well. I’m tired of being gouged for drugs because we’re essentially the only country in the world that doesn’t regulate drug costs.
      As a former hospital employee, I saw how they wasted money, While things like solid maple molding are pleasing to the eye, they aren’t medically necessary….. nor are the art works, and murals they aquire to remain in the “non-profit” category.

  38. Sir Winston Thriller says:

    Yes, government run healthcare is total crap. Just ask anyone using Medicare or TriCare.

  39. Anonymous says:

    There is no free lunch – or healthcare. SOMEBODY gotta pay. So, either your income tax goes up across the board, or your employer provided healthcare get taxed a little. I may not like it, but it does seem to make sense, as long as the public healthcare plan makes sense.

    If the public option is any good at all, I suspect eventually private healthcare insurance will wither and die out.

  40. vladthepaler says:

    First they rob from the middle class to bail out the rich, now they want to rob from the middle class to pay for the poor. Feel the squeeze.

  41. Anonymous says:

    As a Canadian, I find it quite amusing that you guys in the states are defending your for profit system of health care. Yes I know it is your right to pay for inferior coverage. But it has always amazed me that you guys are so brainwashed.

    I have never understood why the USA has not demanded a good health care system like we have in Canada. If we get sick or hurt, the doctor does whatever it takes to help us, there is no discussion on money.

    When we travel to the states our biggest fear is to be injured or get sick while there. We have always said that if we were to get hurt, unless it was life or death, we would just jump a plane or put the peddle to the metal and hget back across the border.

    Seriously, its like defending someone that is robbing you, because its your right to pay the robber.

    BTW: I compared my taxes to a friend in the states, and when he adds in his copays, premiums, etc my taxes are actually LOWER THEN HIS.

  42. aftercancer says:

    Are you people freakin’ kidding me? I was diagnosed with breast cancer at 38 and had insurance and you should be damn glad I did. Because if I had died you’d be paying social security survivor benefits to my husband and for my kids until they are 21 (they were 5 and 17 months at the time). Instead, I work full time providing services to babies (under 3) with disabilities as I have for nearly 20 years.

    I am and have always been a contributing member of society and to read these comments it seems like the idea of losing a hundred dollars out of your paycheck is more important than life and death.

    Do you really mean that? Does this “christian” nation really believe that people should be allowed to die because you don’t want to pay taxes?

    I truly hope that none of you ever have a medical emergency that is serious and unplanned. Because there is not enough saving in the world to pay for chronic illnesses like MS, MD, rheumatoid arthritis, HIV, cancer and more if you are uninsured and I am one person who will continue to FIGHT for healthcare for all!

    • HogwartsAlum says:

      @aftercancer:

      I don’t think people would mind so much if the damn insurers would pay out when something DOES happen.

      But they take your money and run!

    • BluePlastic says:

      @aftercancer: I think this kind of attitude must come from people who have never been affected by serious health problems and somehow think they are immune from it ever happening. I would never wish cancer or a devastating illness of any kind on anyone, but people who haven’t experienced it don’t know what it’s like. I feel like I’m some kind of bum because I had cancer (thyroid). I work, I have insurance through my job. If anything happens to my job, poof goes my followup checkups. It’s scary.

    • morlo says:

      @aftercancer: Saying a different entitlement program would have paid out isn’t exactly a strong argument. And working for an entitlement program doesn’t make your argument better. Of course I think you should have received treatment, but the government was probably billed 20x the actual cost of care.

    • jimconsumer says:

      @aftercancer: Nobody wants anybody to die. However, I hope you understand that, even if you hadn’t had insurance, you wouldn’t have been left to die. You still would have been given treatment in this country. This isn’t an argument about letting sick people die, because that doesn’t happen here. Hospitals are required by law to treat you regardless of your ability to pay.

      We already have health care for all in this country. What do you think Medicare and Medicaid are? Health care for the poor. Those who don’t qualify for that health care need to purchase their own.

      What I’m seeing with regards to health care is less of an inability to pay, but a flat refusal to do so. It’s middle class people who don’t qualify for Medicare/Medicaid bitching and complaining about “I can’t afford health care.” Yet these same people have no trouble making payments on $30,000 cars, cable TV, cellular phones, $250,000 home, and on and on.

      So, you know, I’m sorry if I don’t have a lot of compassion for someone who chooses to buy a fancy car instead of pay for their own damn health care. I don’t have a car payment, I buy affordable used cars with cash. I don’t have cable TV, I have an antenna on my roof. I think it’s BS that others who do have these things want me to pony up for their health care.

      • Anonymous says:

        @jimconsumer: You said “Hospitals are required by law to treat you regardless of your ability to pay”. Where do you think hospitals get the money to treat uninsured patients? They jack up the bills to Medicaid, Medicare, and insurers. Those costs are then passed on to insured taxpayers through their insurance companies and taxes. The current system is flawed because it’s costing insured taxpayers money to subsidize the end of life and emergency health care of the uninsured. Many cancer survivors were lucky enough to have insurance and the benefit of early detection. With the current system the uninsured don’t have access to preventive care they don’t get the early treatment that could prove life saving. Reading some of the comments makes me sad. It’s hard to believe that some people are so selfish and cruel that they would rather save a few dollars on their taxes than save the life of a fellow American.

      • Pithlit says:

        @jimconsumer: Wrong. People most certainly are left to die because they don’t have insurance and can’t afford the treatments. You’re living in fantasy land if you think otherwise. Yes. Hospitals are required to treat people on an emergency basis. They aren’t allowed to let someone bleed to death right there on the table if they’re brought in by ambulance with a gun shot wound, for example. But they aren’t required to provide expensive cancer treatments. You are sadly mistaken. And if you think people die because they’d rather have 30,000 cars? You’re a dolt.

      • the_wiggle says:

        @jimconsumer: oh yes it does happen here – people are left to die here.

        if you cannot afford or qualify for treatment, or you do, but the waiting list is so long &/or hurdle filled (yes, VA I’m looking at YOU!) you are dead before getting treatment – you have been left to die.

        if you have no insurance, not enough, or are a “difficult” patient, your will be left to die.

        google around, check the news. it not only can happen, it does happen & will continue happening.

    • Nick Stiege says:

      @aftercancer:

      Sorry, but the idea of losing 100 dollars will always be more important to me than the life or death of a random individual I don’t know.

  43. lawnmowerdeth says:

    It’s not that we don’t want to pay taxes. It’s that we don’t want to pay any MORE taxes. What % of someones paycheck is enough?

  44. jimconsumer says:

    If passed, this would take between $200-$300 a month out of my paycheck. I’m trying to buy a new home and I’d no longer be able to afford it if this bullshit passes. Obama promised us no new taxes – so what in the hell is this?

    End result? I’m probably not going to buy my home now. Just the threat of this new tax scares the hell out of me. If I move into my house and then they pass this bill, I’m screwed.

    EXPLAIN YOURSELF, PRESIDENT OBAMA! Because this is NOT what you promised in your campaign, you lying SOB. Short of a public promise to us and Congress that you’ll veto this and any similar bill, I’m going to have to explain to my builder why I’m no longer able to sign a contract with him.

  45. S-the-K says:

    The answer is NO NEW TAXES!

    If we wanted a reduction in income due to higher taxes, we would have voted for McCain. Instead, we wanted a reduction in income due to higher inflation due to uncontrolled government spending.

    I say that anyone who feels that they cannot afford insurance should have to attend a finance education class and go to a financial advisor. We need to verify that people who claim to not be able to afford insurance truly can’t afford it and not spending their money on other things like fancy cars, spinners, gold jewelry, expensive cell phones with thousands of minutes per month and sending hundreds of SMS messages a month.

    I should not have to pay for someone’s insurance that they should be paying for themselves and subsidizing their luxurious lifestyle.

    Health insurance is and should always be optional. Anyone can get quality health care by walking into any hospital. How to pay for it can be taken care of later. That’s why we with insurance pay $9 for a Tylenol in a hospital, so we can pay for those who can’t pay.

    If someone chooses to get an iPhone 3GS with unlimited minutes and data plan instead of getting insurance, then that is their problem. I should not be forced to subsidize their lifestyle choices.

    If Chairman O passes the legislation that he criticized McCain for, we will impeach him faster than you can say “ACORN”!

  46. failurate says:

    Whatever kills the Health Insurance Industry… I’m on board.

  47. stevgex says:

    I am so not on board with this. I wor my ass off to provide for me and my family. I’m in California so I am already paying taxes at confiscatory level. The California legislature loves to create health and social service programs that really cripple the economy here. If you want an idea of what will happen on a national level, look at where California is now.

  48. Anonymous says:

    All of us who do not have employer paid health insurance pay for others to have it. For instance, the Widget Company pays for its employee health care. They add the cost to the price of the Widget. I buy and Widget since I really need one to live and in the process I help pay for the employee health insurance. Is this fair to those who cannot afford health insurance or who pay a good percentage of their income for health insurance? I think not.

  49. RogueWarrior says:

    See, this is what makes no sense to me. Obama et al want universal health care ostensibly because it’s a basic human right or a necessity or something. So that would put it in the same category as food and clothing which aren’t taxed at least in many places. So how does withdrawing a tax exemption on it make sense? IMHO, every dollar you spend on health care should be deductible. But oh no, we can’t have that in Obamaland because then we wouldn’t be able to pay for universal health care. My brain hurts.

  50. Anonymous says:

    The plan to tax health benefits is part of setting up a competition where the Government will win out over people who try to be independent, go it alone, do their own thing.

    This is one piece of the Obama War on Prosperity where the object is to add to the dependent class of Rummies, Loafers and Bums who are unproductive, but, come to rallies, get out the vote and re-elect Dems who foster the Government Dependency. This is George McGovern 1972 Platform, why produce since we will give it to you, care for you cradle to grave, just let us control everything….

  51. Anonymous says:

    This is to break the ages-old cartel between employers and insurance companies and actually create a market for insurance. Let’s face it, right now you have almost zero say in what your insurance is; the link between employment and insurance is an artificial one created by the tax break given to employer-funded health plans.

    If you want to exercise any real choice over your health insurance, then you should be in favor of this measure.

  52. Mike Mancuso says:

    This pisses me off to no end. My untaxed health benefits is one of the best things my job has going for it. I could have gone to higher paying jobs but stayed here for my family’s health insurance. Obama promised that anyone under 250k would not have their taxes raised. Well this sure feels like a raise in my tax bill. This is one of the main reasons I didn’t like McCain. Keep the government out of my wallet.

  53. the_wiggle says:

    HELL NO! I am taxed enough already. Tax my health insurance & I may as well drop coverage – I wouldn’t have enough $$ left to pay the co-pay.

  54. the_wiggle says:

    @dianashotko: yes. right about the time people stopped regularly dropping dead at between 30-50.

  55. the_wiggle says:

    @giggitygoo: legally no they can’t. realistic’ly? yes, yes they do.

  56. Anonymous says:

    Recently read that the on average;

    Wages increased 29%
    Cost of living increased 34%
    Healthcare cost increased 119%

    And this is over the past 5 years.

    I do not believe we should tax our people more, however we should regulate the drug and insurance companies from overcharging and underproviding care for their clients. Why not look at the root cause of the problem and attempt to FIX the issue rather than kick it down the line.

  57. painfullyblunt says:

    what if your employer is self-insured? Meaning, rather then paying a health insurance company a set fee to provide coverage for employees, they simply pay the medical bills themselves, One employee might have to pay taxes on the $8,000 in medical bills their employer paid, while another might have to pay taxes on the $150,000 the employer paid for their bills.

    Is that how it would work? cause if that’s the case, the taxes could cost a person more then actually make in salary!

  58. Anonymous says:

    It is unfair that those of us who have to pay for our own health care insurance also have to help pay for those who have employer paid health care insurance. At least those of us who have to pay for our own should be able to deduct the cost from our taxes.