Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Health Care Reform

The say the devil is in the details. It is sad that it has taken this long for the United States to get to a point where they can even start to take action toward achieving affordable health care for it's citizens. I am proud that the Obama administration took a step toward achieving this accomplishment. However, I am saddened to see some of the results.

•A requirement that businesses include the value of the health care benefits they provide to employees on W-2s, beginning with W-2s for 2011. (This doesn't mean higher taxes! It will let us know the value of our health care. Most people have no idea how much health care actually costs. Back in 2007, when I left my last job, I discovered my employer was forking over $1,002 (minus my $350 contribution) a month for my coverage!)

•Elimination, after this year, of a deduction employers now take for providing Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage to their retirees to the extent that the federal government subsidizes the coverage. This will not take effect until 2013. (Once again we give the senior citizen's the shaft. I thought we were suppose to honor our elders)

•A ban on using funds from flexible spending accounts, health reimbursement arrangements or health savings accounts for the cost of over-the-counter medications, starting in 2011. (This one is just plain stupid!)

•A limit on the amount that employees can contribute to health care flexible spending accounts to $2,500 a year. Under the House package of changes, the cap won’t take effect until 2013. (This along with the current $5,000/year limit on dependent care expenses is crazy. Anyone with a child knows these limits are ridiculously low, but wait, now that over the counter medications can't be included and preventative care for doctors visits is not suppose to involve a co-pay any longer)

A hike in the 7.5% floor on itemized deductions for medical expenses to 10%, beginning in 2013. But taxpayers age 65 and over are exempt from the cutback through 2016. (Good Lord folks! If I make $35,000/year, I have to shell out over $3,500 before I start getting a tax benefit!)

A new 40% excise tax, beginning in 2013, on high-cost health plans, defined as those providing coverage in excess of $8,500 for individuals and $23,000 for families. The House’s package of modifications includes higher threshold amounts and an initial effective date of 2018. (I don't know what this means, but it doesn't look good. Please post a comment if you understand this for everyone's benefit. Thanks!)

The attorney generals from 13 states are frightening against the requirement that everyone obtains health insurance. It's the other parts of the bill they should be fighting against. My opinion is like this: If your state doesn't want to require it's citizens get health insurance, that's ok. However, those states will also lose their Medicare/Medicaid funding from the federal government as well as the public hospitals (which includes most hospitals).

When we start talking about Grandma's Medicare, then folks opinions on government sponsored health care changes.

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