A look at the House Democrats' health bill
Source: Associated Press Online | July 15, 2009
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By The Associated Press
Jul. 15, 2009 (AP Online delivered by Newstex) -- Details on the health care overhaul bill introduced Tuesday by Democrats in the House:
WHO'S COVERED: Around 94 percent of non-elderly residents (those not covered by Medicare, which kicks in at age 65) would be covered -- compared with 81 percent today. Nearly half of the 17 million non-elderly residents who remain uninsured would be illegal immigrants.
COST: About $1.5 trillion over 10 years.
HOW IT'S PAID FOR: Revenue-raisers include: $544 billion from a new income tax surcharge on single people making $280,000 a year and households making $350,000 and above; $37 billion in other tax adjustments. About $500 billion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. About $200 billion from penalties paid by individuals and employers who don't obtain coverage.
REQUIREMENTS FOR INDIVIDUALS: Individuals must have insurance, enforced through tax penalty with hardship waivers. The penalty is 2.5 percent of income.
REQUIREMENTS FOR EMPLOYERS: Employers must provide insurance to their employees or pay a penalty of 8 percent of payroll. Companies with payroll under $250,000 annually are exempt.
SUBSIDIES: Individuals and families with annual income up to 400 percent of poverty level ($88,000 for a family of four) would get sliding-scale subsidies to help them buy coverage. The subsidies would begin in 2013.
HOW YOU CHOOSE YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE: Through a new Health Insurance Exchange open to individuals and, initially, small employers; it could be expanded to large employers over time. States could opt to operate their own exchanges in place of the national exchange if they follow federal rules.
BENEFIT PACKAGE: A committee would recommend an "essential benefits package" including preventive services, mental health services, oral heath and vision for children; out-of pocket costs would be capped. The new benefit package would be the basic benefit package offered in the exchange and over time would become the minimum quality standard for employer plans. Insurers wouldn't be able to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
GOVERNMENT-RUN PLAN: A new public plan available through the insurance exchanges would be set up and run by the secretary of Health and Human Services. On average it would pay Medicare rates plus 5 percent to doctors.
CHANGES TO MEDICAID: The federal-state insurance program for the poor would be expanded starting in 2013 to cover all non-elderly individuals with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level ($14,404).