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The Healthy Americans Act

Posted Sep 29 2008 4:05pm

I attended a health care summit a number of days ago, where those in attendance learned of the new bi-partisan effort at reforming health care: The Healthy Americans Act.    More than 40 members of the House and Senate have already given support to the bill which will be up for legislation in early 2009.   Senator Ron Wyden is taking a lead role in drafting the legislation.   The following information comes from his web site where you can alsodownload a copy of the entire bill.

In a nutshell, here’s what intrigues me:

·        Healthcare will be portable

·        Healthcare would be affordable

·        Pre-existing conditions would not affect access to healthcare or costs of healthcare coverage

 

One of the biggest points of contention during the negotiation of the legislation will be the mandates placed on individuals, requiring they carry insurance or face steep fines.   I found it most interesting that of the 46 million Americans who don’t have health insurance, only 10 million really can’t afford it.  

Here come the details:

The Healthy Americans Act would guarantee every American universal, affordable, comprehensive, portable, high-quality, private health coverage that is as good or better than Members of Congress have today.

The Act includes tough cost containment measures - and would save Americans $1.45 trillion over the next decade.

All 46 million uninsured Americans would be covered, for the same funds currently spent by Americans on health care.  And every American will feel secure, knowing that your health care won’t ever go away.

There are, of course, many details.  Here’s a few of the highlights. 

The Healthy Americans Act:

·         guarantees you private health care coverage that doesn’t go away, even if you change jobs, lose your job, retire, go to school, or become too sick to work.

·         provides a generous benefit equal to those of Members of Congress

·         ensures that everyone has affordable health care coverage, including meaningful assistance to low-income Americans.

·         puts you in chargeof your health care choices, not your employer

·         makes sure that everyone has the same affordable coverage options, no matter your age, gender, genetic information, or pre-existing health conditions

·         saves $1.48 trillionover 10 years through tough cost containment

·         provides incentives for individuals and insurers to focus on prevention, wellness and disease management

·         creates meaningful and easy-to-understand wellness statistics so that Americans can compare health care plans

·         is fully paid for by spending the $2.2 trillion currently spent on health care in America

Here’s how it would work.

For starters, every American will have the power to choose - and will be required to choose - a comprehensive health insurance plan.  The plans will be high-quality, at least as good as what Members of Congress have today.  Every American will be able to choose from any plan offered in their region; and they can keep their plan even if they change jobs, lose their job, or become too sick to work.

Here’s how Jacob Weisbergdescribed the planin Slate:

Under Wyden’s plan, employers would no longer provide health coverage, as they have since World War II. Instead, they’d convert the current cost of coverage into additional salary for employees. Individuals would use this money to buy insurance, which they would be required to have.

Private insurance plans would compete on features and price but would have to offer benefits at least equivalent to the Blue Cross “standard” option. Signing up for insurance would be as easy as ticking off a box on your tax return. In most cases, insurance premiums would be withheld from paychecks, as they are now.

Eliminating employers as an additional payer would encourage consumers to use health care more efficiently. Getting rid of the employer tax deduction, which costs a whopping $200 billion a year, would free up funds to subsidize insurance up to 400 percent of the poverty line, which is $82,000 for a family of four.

The Lewin Group, an independent consulting firm, hasestimatedthat Wyden’s plan would reduce overall national spending on health care by $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years and that it would save the government money through great administrative efficiency and competition.

According to that independent analysis, families who have incomes under $40,000 a year will have less out-of-pocket expenses under the HAA than they do now. 

Families between $40,000 and $50,000 would pay about $81/year more - about $7 a month.  Families between $50,000 and $150,000 would average between $327 and $341 per year more - about $28 a month.

In return for this modest increase these families would have guaranteed coverage that they could never lose, not if they get sick, not if they lose their jobs, not for any reason.  This guaranteed coverage would be more comprehensive and include prevention benefits that would help you and your family improve their health.  This new coverage would be fully portable - no longer would you need to stay in a job that paid less, or offered less opportunity, just to maintain health coverage.  No longer would a parent need to work hours when they needed to be with their children just to maintain full time status for their health insurance.

 

Posted in Activism, Life with M.S.   Tagged: Healthy Americans Act, M.S., Multiple sclerosis   
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