Source: State of the Division
Here’s something about health care reform that can unite the Left and the Right. They should find this equally offensive.
The one Congressional committee that has yet to agree on its legislative reform plan is Max Baucus’ Senate Finance Committee. An 18-page summary (PDF) of what we can expect was revealed this week.
Insurance reform of policies sold to individuals – that is, to people who are not covered by their employer — includes some of the things we’ve been hearing about. Insurance companies can’t deny coverage due to a pre-existing condition. They can’t impose lifetime limits on what they’ll pay. Your policy can’t be cancelled for no good reason.
What’s new is a gift to the insurance industry in the form of rates that can be charged for insurance premiums.
If you smoke, you can be charged 50% more than a non-smoker.
If you have children, you can be charged 50% more than a childless couple.
If you’re a single parent, you can be charged 80% more than a single adult.
If you’re over 50, you can be charged 500% more than someone in their twenties.
Who pays for the increased premiums? Taxpayers
Perhaps you think it’s only fair to charge smokers more, but consider this. (Here’s the part that will especially annoy the Right.) Most smokers are poor. Many will qualify for a complete subsidy of their insurance premiums. Others will be eligible for at least partial subsidies. That extra 50% will be paid for by taxpayers.
The extra cost for smokers doesn’t even act as a deterrent. If taxpayers are footing the bill, the smoker won’t even notice that the insurance is more expensive.
The same logic goes for single parents, many of whom will qualify for partial or full subsidies. (The professional woman who decides to have a child without a mate, like Tina Fey in Baby Mama, will most likely have insurance through her employer.) The extra 80% comes out of taxpayer pockets.
This is an example of what political contributions from the insurance industry can accomplish. We’ve heard all summer long how closely insurance lobbyists have been working with Senate members to craft a bill. Now we see the results.
As for universal coverage, there’s a loophole. Suppose you’re an older adult who can’t afford to pay five times as much as someone younger. If your premium is more than 10% of your income, you can opt not to buy insurance and the government won’t charge you a penalty. But you won’t have any insurance! Just when you probably need it the most!
As an additional gift to the insurance industry, there’s no public option. Just millions of new customers, subsidized by taxpayers.
Thanks a lot, guys, but it wasn’t worth the wait.
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Congress finds health insurance industry fundamentally flawed
Why health insurance isn’t there when you need it most
Where does the health care money go?
Thanks to Maggie Mahar for her Health Beat post.
(Links will open in a separate window or tab.)
Maggie Mahar, Finally, Max Baucus Unveils His Outline for Reform, Health Beat, September 8, 2009
Framework for Comprehensive Health Reform (PDF)