The House version of the health care reform bill passed the House on Saturday night. Now it needs to be merged with some sort fo Senate version of the bill and signed by the President to become law. So how does this reform bill actually affect consumers?
- Insurance mandate – Uninsured Americans will pay a penalty; low-income people exempt. House bill charges a penalty of 2.5% of adjusted gross income: that’s $500 on $20,000, for example.
- Employer coverage – All employers with a payroll above $500,000 must help pay for some kind of health insurance for their employees, or pay a tax. The Senate Finance Committee version of the bill does not have this requirement.
- Insurance exchange – Allows people who are not covered to buy health insurance in nation- or state-wide markets. Available to employees of small businesses, and others not eligible for coverage.
- Public plan - Would create a new federal government-run insurance plan with its own physician and hospital rates, separate from those negotiated by Medicare. Senate Finance Committee instead offers nonprofit insurance cooperatives in each state.
- Subsidies - Households earning up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level would be eligible for subsidies of health insurance premiums when they buy insurance through the exchange.
- Small business subsidies - Tax credits for small employers that provide health care coverage for employees.
- Coverage – House and Senate Health Committee versions require plans to pay for 70% of all health care spending that the plan covers; Senate Finance Committee version requires 65%. Insurers cannot deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions, and premiums may not vary according to age on the individual insurance market as widely as they do now. People receiving federal subsidies for insurance may not enroll in a plan that includes coverage of abortions.
- Medicaid - Households with incomes up to 150% of the federal poverty level would now be eligible for Medicaid. Senate Finance Committee would expand to 133% of the federal poverty level, starting in 2014.
Sweeping Health Care Plan Passes House [NY Times]