The Healthcare Bill – An explination of what just passed

Bottom line: Like it or not, you’re going to pay more, either as part of your insurance company’s plan to cover the mandatory changes as outlined by this new healthcare bill, or by way of direct government taxes.

Here’s the breakdown, as copied from REUTERS


*Insurance companies will be barred from dropping people from coverage when they get sick. Lifetime coverage limits will be eliminated and annual limits are to be restricted.

*Insurers will be barred from excluding children for coverage because of pre-existing conditions.

*Young adults will be able to stay on their parents’ health plans until the age of 26. Many health plans currently drop dependents from coverage when they turn 19 or finish college.

*Uninsured adults with a pre-existing conditions will be able to obtain health coverage through a new program that will expire once new insurance exchanges begin operating in 2014.

*A temporary reinsurance program is created to help companies maintain health coverage for early retirees between the ages of 55 and 64. This also expires in 2014.

*Medicare drug beneficiaries who fall into the “doughnut hole” coverage gap will get a $250 rebate. The bill eventually closes that gap which currently begins after $2,700 is spent on drugs. Coverage starts again after $6,154 is spent.

*A tax credit becomes available for some small businesses to help provide coverage for workers.

*A 10 percent tax on indoor tanning services that use ultraviolet lamps goes into effect on July 1.


*Medicare provides 10 percent bonus payments to primary care physicians and general surgeons.

*Medicare beneficiaries will be able to get a free annual wellness visit and personalized prevention plan service. New health plans will be required to cover preventive services with little or no cost to patients.

*A new program under the Medicaid plan for the poor goes into effect in October that allows states to offer home and community based care for the disabled that might otherwise require institutional care.

*Payments to insurers offering Medicare Advantage services are frozen at 2010 levels. These payments are to be gradually reduced to bring them more in line with traditional Medicare.

*Employers are required to disclose the value of health benefits on employees’ W-2 tax forms.

*An annual fee is imposed on pharmaceutical companies according to market share. The fee does not apply to companies with sales of $5 million or less.


*Physician payment reforms are implemented in Medicare to enhance primary care services and encourage doctors to form “accountable care organizations” to improve quality and efficiency of care.

*An incentive program is established in Medicare for acute care hospitals to improve quality outcomes.

*The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which oversees the government programs, begin tracking hospital readmission rates and puts in place financial incentives to reduce preventable readmissions.


*A national pilot program is established for Medicare on payment bundling to encourage doctors, hospitals and other care providers to better coordinate patient care.

*The threshold for claiming medical expenses on itemized tax returns is raised to 10 percent from 7.5 percent of income. The threshold remains at 7.5 percent for the elderly through 2016.

*The Medicare payroll tax is raised to 2.35 percent from 1.45 percent for individuals earning more than $200,000 and married couples with incomes over $250,000. The tax is imposed on some investment income for that income group.

*A 2.9 percent excise tax in imposed on the sale of medical devices. Anything generally purchased at the retail level by the public is excluded from the tax.


*State health insurance exchanges for small businesses and individuals open.

*Most people will be required to obtain health insurance coverage or pay a fine if they don’t. Healthcare tax credits become available to help people with incomes up to 400 percent of poverty purchase coverage on the exchange.

*Health plans no longer can exclude people from coverage due to pre-existing conditions.

*Employers with 50 or more workers who do not offer coverage face a fine of $2,000 for each employee if any worker receives subsidized insurance on the exchange. The first 30 employees aren’t counted for the fine.

*Health insurance companies begin paying a fee based on their market share.


*Medicare creates a physician payment program aimed at rewarding quality of care rather than volume of services.


*An excise tax on high cost employer-provided plans is imposed. The first $27,500 of a family plan and $10,200 for individual coverage is exempt from the tax. Higher levels are set for plans covering retirees and people in high risk professions. (Reporting by Donna Smith; Editing by David Alexander and Eric Beech)

And here’s a nice interactive piece to go along with the timeline above. The presentation sums it up pretty well. “All options will cost me more… All I can choose is how my money is taken from my pocket.” (slides 43-45)

The IRS will enforce the healthcare bill – fine Americans without coverage

Not a joke. Not “fringe” news.

“The health care overhaul will expand IRS authority by giving agents the power to verify acceptable health care coverage and fine or confiscate the tax refunds of Americans without coverage.”

You can read the article at NASDAQ or at the Wall Street Journal.

Change you can believe in go to jail for!

This is not what I voted for.

Tim Pawlenty’s interview in Esquire March 2010

Normally I only post the “News You Missed” on Saturdays and I’m done until Monday, but since I’ve been going through my stack of magazines tonight (and I have a touch of insomnia), I wanted to post something that really got my attention.

Esquire in March 2010 (yes, I’m a month behind!) had an interview with Tim Pawlenty, the current Governor of Minnesota and potential Republican candidate for 2012.

Seriously? This man gets it.

In the interview, he says…

“…the Republicans had their shot not long ago to address the real needs and concerns of everyday Americans, and they blew it. I think that’s mitigated by the fact that we had a terrorist incident, there is a war, and there was a lot of proper focus on those issues, but over the time that they were there and had the leadership opportunity, they blew it. We got fired for a reason.”

Hmm. That’s a pretty accurate analysis there. He also says…

“…there are a bunch of people who went and voted for Barack Obama who are now concerned that he’s taken the country in a direction that they don’t like. And they’re not necessarily back to supporting Republicans, but they’re available for us to persuade, and that’s a huge opportunity. Our opportunities for 2010 are tremendous.”

…and my “eyebrows over the forehead” moment came when he said…

“Medicare was started a long time ago, and medicine had changed, having gone from clinical practices and hospitalizations to treating more and more conditions with prescription medicines. So it makes sense to extend Medicare benefits to prescription medicines.”

Ho-lee crap. That’s the only health care reform we need! Brilliant!

I have a feeling this man is going to pull an “Obama” on his political party. Right now everyone is focusing on Mitt Romney like the Democrats initially focused on Hillary for 2008. But Pawlenty is the man I would vote for in 2012, especially if Obama continues to bait-and-switch on promises he made during his campaign. (IE: Authorizing ongoing illegal spying on American citizens, continuing the war(s) overseas, not implementing transparency on all government matters, pushing through a mandatory healthcare reform plan where if you don’t accept it you will get fined and possibly put in prison, etc.)

The interview also goes over Pawlenty’s upbringing in a real working class family and also some of his other beliefs on the current state of the union.

You can read the full Esquire interview with Tim Pawlenty here and the “photo” filled version of the interview here.