Saturday, June 13, 2009

The first step: the Federal government decides how much health care you are entitled to have

Paying for universal health care was always the (ahem, with apologies to the GOP) the elephant in the room.

Here are the three options thus far on the table, according to the SF Chronicle:

Rep. Pete Stark, a leading congressional author of health reform legislation, called Thursday for a 2 percent income tax surcharge to pay for the health insurance program he predicted Congress and President Obama would enact later this year....

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., chairman of the Senate Finance Committee that also is drafting health reform legislation, has endorsed a new tax on employees for some health insurance benefits that exceed the value of the basic plan offered to federal employees, currently about $13,000 a year for a family of four.

Obama has proposed paying for universal health care coverage by reducing tax deductions for upper-income taxpayers.

The one that catches my eye here--and which has been getting pimped in the press with sufficient regularity over the past few days to suggest it is the front runner--is the Baucus plan for taxing your existing health care benefits.

Notice what Senator Baucus is proposing: the new tax will kick in for employees at the point at which their benefits exceed about $13,000 annually, which is described as the value of the basic plan offered to federal employees.

Correct me if I am wrong, but the basic plan in this context generally means the cheapest plan, the one with the fewest actual benefits, and usually the highest co-pays.

So what Senator Baucus is suggesting is that the baseline for universal health care will be the cost of the worst plan that the Feds offer their own employees, and that everything above that will be essentially considered a taxable luxury.

This also means, to take the example of Delaware state employees, that every employee with a family health plan will come under this tax.

The worst Delaware state employee family options are First State Basic ($14,360.16) AETNA HMO ($15,539.44/year) and BlueCare HMO ($15,401.28). The best plan is the Comprehensive PPO plan ($16,677.60).

I need to say this again: the proposed standard is that you are only entitled to health care worth the worst Federal plan, and anything better will be considered a taxable luxury.

The other irony about the Baucus plan, coming from the Democrats--the party of the progressives--is that this is a profoundly regressive tax. Again, consider Delaware's state employees and realize that Senator Baucus plans to tax a school cafeteria worker with a $20K income and a DE family health plan exactly the same amount as he plans to tax dear old Lonnie George.

And, as has been noted repeatedly throughout the media for the past several days, President Obama is ready to reverse his own campaign promises of no tax increases for families making less than $250K and no taxing of health care benefits in order to accommodate the idea of taxing the poorest people now receiving health insurance to pay for the uninsured.


Anonymous said...

Also remember, the smaller the group (company) the higher the premiums. Also, the older and sicker the employees (claims experiance) the higher the premiums.

I worked for a small company where the owners (both in their 60's) took themselves out of the company insurance pool because their presence skewed the formula and drove the insurance rates through the roof.

Brad said...

A completely predictable order to guarantee government-subsidized healthcare for everyone, the government taxes the current benefits that people are on. This is really going to hurt small business, which will lead to more unemployment. This is the true cost of socialism..all the indirect effects of these taxes.