In the above referenced article that she wrote for the Wall Street Journal, she clearly outlines those parts of this legislation that would impose the heavy handedness of government on almost every American's life. Some of the important things that I took away from her article -- with my own interpretation added -- were:
- Even though you might currently have a health care insurance policy that you are quite happy with, the Federal government could decide that it isn't a "qualified plan" and force you or your employer to provide one that meets the new government standard. This could result in you having to pay a higher cost than you are paying right now.
- 18 months after this Bill becomes law, you will be forced to buy a "qualified" insurance policy if you already don't have insurance. If you're making, say, $44,000 a year; that policy might cost you as much as $7,000 a year. That's $7,000 a year before you pay taxes. So, effectively, if you're a single person and earning $44,000, your new, effective salary will immediately become $37,000. If you have a spouse and kids, I think you can see where the rest of all your money will be going.
- If, when you file your taxes, you can't prove that you are enrolled in a qualified insurance plan, a substantial penalty (probably greater than the cost of having bought insurance for you and your family) will be applied to your tax bill; thus making the IRS the enforcer for not participating in the nation's health care reform insurance program. This means that many Americans will wind up paying the outrageous penalties that the IRS is well known for. In many cases, this could break the backs of people who were probably struggling and who were unable to buy insurance in the first place.
- Employers will have to provide health insurance for every one of their employees. Additionally, each employer will have to pay 72.5% of the cost for that insurance. This part of the bill has a lot of far reaching consequences. First and foremost, the cost of almost everything that we buy in this country is bound to go up. That's because smaller companies, who have never offered health insurance before, will be forced to provide it. Furthermore, the majority of companies who do provide insurance for their employees, usually do so on a 50/50 basis. With this new law, their burden will go up from the current 50% sponsorship to 72.5%; a near 50% increase in their cost to provide health insurance. The money to do all this will either come from higher prices for their products and services or from downsizing their workforce in order to pay for it. Either way, it will be a disaster for our economy. Another consequence of this part of the Bill is the fact that spouses will have to get their insurance individually and from their respective employers. Don't expect that a spouse will be able to "opt out" of their employer's program and sign on to their "significant other's" insurance program; which might actually be a better program. There's no allowance for this. Each employer must provide insurance for their workers or suffer an 8% surcharged tax. I also suspect that if a spouse is a "stay at homer", he or she will not be able to ride off their husband or wife's employer-provided insurance policy because the cost to the employer will be just too high. In that case, the non-working spouse will be forced to get his/her own insurance independently. Similarly, an employee might not be able to cover the children with their employer's insurance and, for that reason, the parent may have to source insurance separately. For some families, this could result in a substantially higher cost for their overall insurance coverage.
- Medicare funding will be slashed by $500 billion dollars through reduced payouts for care. As a consequence, I would expect the trend of doctors refusing to care for Medicare patients will just keep increasing. That means that many Medicare insured patients will be getting their care from "assembly line" health care providers who spend little or no time with their patients. This will not mean better care for many older Americans. For example, hospice patients may no longer get their care from physicians, but solely from physician assistants..
- The "medical home" provision of the Bill will restrict the manner in which health care is provided; and, in doing so, it will restrict the payout for every kind of medical procedure that is given. Essentially, this provision of the Bill expands this type of HMO practice to every medical procedure. This is particularly interesting, because this limited kind of health care coverage is the very thing that Democrats have hated about HMO's and have held hearing after hearing about in year's past.
- The payouts for medical care will be limited to the lowest cost of providing similar care throughout the country. So, a doctor in San Francisco -- where the standard of living is quite high and quite expensive -- can only bill as if he or she was living in Little Rock or some other lower cost area of the country. If this won't drive some doctors and other health care providers out of business, I don't know what will.
- Medicare Advantage patients will suffer reductions in dental and vision coverage as part of reducing Medicare expenses.