Thursday, June 11, 2009

What's Coming For Business In Health Care Reform?

I have spent the last day and a half parsing the 615 page "draft" of Senator Kennedy's Affordable Health Choices Act. Without waiting for the Senator and his Committee to fill in the few significant sections stating only "Policy Under Discussion," here's what's in the bill as presented:

if you have health coverage now, you can keep it.

everyone who applies must be accepted.

all policies must be guaranteed renewable.

dependent coverage must continue up to age 26.

employers must offer coverage and file an information return identifying covered employees and telling how many months each employee was covered.

everyone must purchase health insurance, or pay a fine in an amount to be determined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

all health insurance will be subject to the following requirements:

no exclusion for preexisting conditions
no premium differences based on health status, gender, past claims
premiums may vary from locality to locality based on local costs
premiums may vary based on age and family structure
no annual or lifetime limit to benefits payable

The bill leaves it up to the Secretary of HHS to determine the amount of the fine for not being covered during any period of 90 days or more, but I am predicting the amount will be equal to the individual coverage premium under the prior year's public plan as proposed in the legislation. How will the government know you aren't covered? Your employer will report social security numbers of those who are covered, and if you file a tax return and don't show up in the database of covered SSN's as reported by all employers, you will be charged the fine.

If you or your business has any concerns with these proposals, now is the time to get in touch with your Congressman and Senators.
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