Monday, October 5, 2009

Just Exactly What is "Health Care Security?"

The President has said many times this health care debate is about "health care security." But the fact is that, under the Democratic bills now being considered, many middle class families (those making between $50,000 and $100,000 a year) would not be able to afford to buy a health insurance policy even with the proposed federal government subsidies.

Under the House Energy bill
a family making 250% of poverty ($55,125) would be required to pay 8% of their income up to $4,416 a year for a policy that could have a deductible of $1,000 and a $7,450 out-of-pocket cap.

At 300% of poverty ($66,150), the House Energy bill would limit a family’s insurance costs to 10% of annual income or $6,612 a year with a deductible of up to $2,400 and an annual cap of $8,520 in our-of-pocket costs.

A family making 400% of poverty ($88,200) would be expected to pay as much as 12% of their annual income or $10,584 a year for their insurance that could have a $3,000 deductible and a $10,000 annual out-of-pocket cap.

The Senate Finance Committee is in the process of rightly concluding that mandating some of these families to pay that much makes no sense. How many families making as much as $80,000 a year do you know who have an extra $10,584 a year sitting in their checking account (and that for a policy with a $3,000 deductible)?

So, they are getting ready to exempt as many as 2 million people from the mandate.

That all sounds logical.

But what happened to "health care security?" When the day is done the bad news is that many of these middle class families still won't have insurance but the good news is that they won't have to pay a fine.

So what have we accomplished?

In Monday's Washington Post Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) is quoted as saying he has some reservations about where this is all coming out:
Wyden is concerned that under the legislation, nearly 200 million Americans who receive coverage through an employer would be barred from shopping on the new exchange. He also worries that providing a "hardship waiver" to families that cannot afford insurance leaves too many without coverage.

"People don't hold rallies saying, 'Thank you for my exemption,' " he said. "Rather, they want us to deliver more affordable coverage."

It may be time for the Congress to take a deep breath and take a broader view of where they are headed.

Are we going to spend close to a trillion dollars on a health care bill and end up just exempting many of the uninsured middle class from fines they don't have to face today?

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