Posted tagged ‘health insurance’

New Health Care Bill Has a Tax for Everyone

October 30, 2009

From HotAir:

Americans for Tax Reform has culled the 1990-page Pelosi health-care overhaul bill to find the taxes that will supposedly collect over $540 billion in revenue over 10 years.  It’s quite an impressive list of new burdens on Americans and their health-care providers and producers — but that’s redundant.  After all, who do you think will end up paying for the medical-device taxes?  It won’t be insurers or doctors:

  • Employer Mandate Excise Tax (Page 275): If an employer does not pay 72.5 percent of a single employee’s health premium (65 percent of a family employee), the employer must pay an excise tax equal to 8 percent of average wages.  Small employers (measured by payroll size) have smaller payroll tax rates of 0 percent (<$500,000), 2 percent ($500,000-$585,000), 4 percent ($585,000-$670,000), and 6 percent ($670,000-$750,000).
  • Individual Mandate Surtax (Page 296): If an individual fails to obtain qualifying coverage, he must pay an income surtax equal to the lesser of 2.5 percent of modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) or the average premium.  MAGI adds back in the foreign earned income exclusion and municipal bond interest.
  • Medicine Cabinet Tax (Page 324)
  • Cap on FSAs (Page 325)
  • Increased Additional Tax on Non-Qualified HSA Distributions (Page 326)
  • Denial of Tax Deduction for Employer Health Plans Coordinating with Medicare Part D (Page 327)
  • Surtax on Individuals and Small Businesses (Page 336)
  • Excise Tax on Medical Devices (Page 339)
  • Corporate 1099-MISC Information Reporting (Page 344)
  • Delay in Worldwide Allocation of Interest (Page 345)
  • Limitation on Tax Treaty Benefits for Certain Payments (Page 346)
  • Codification of the “Economic Substance Doctrine” (Page 349)
  • Application of “More Likely Than Not” Rule (Page 357)

See the ATR post for detailed descriptions of each new tax. 

Calling the Obamacare Line

October 28, 2009

Fact-Checking the Obama Health Speech

September 10, 2009

o-youlieReason magazine editor-in-chief Matt Welch has the best post-speech fact-check I’ve seen so far. Going beyond just the basic true/false of what Obama said about the (nonexistant) health reform plan, Welch takes measure of the president’s character and how willing we should be to trust his promises.

 

A brief excerpt:

Again and again last night, the president’s numbers didn’t add up. “There may be those—particularly the young and healthy—who still want to take the risk and go without coverage,” he warned, in a passage defending compulsory insurance. “The problem is, such irresponsible behavior costs all the rest of us money. If there are affordable options and people still don’t sign up for health insurance, it means we pay for those people’s expensive emergency room visits.” No, it means that, on balance, the healthy young don’t pay for the unhealthy old. The whole point of forcing vigorous youth to buy insurance is using their cash and good actuarials to bring down the costs of covering the less fortunate.

Such fudges reveal a politician who, for whatever reason, feels like he can’t be honest about the real-world costs of expanding health care. “Add it all up, and the plan I’m proposing will cost around $900 billion over ten years,” he said, trying hard to sound like those numbers weren’t pulled out of Joe Biden’s pants, and won’t be dwarfed by actual costs within a year or two. “We’ve estimated that most of this plan can be paid for by finding savings within the existing health care system–a system that is currently full of waste and abuse,” he said, making him at least the eighth consecutive president to vaguely promise cutting Medicare “waste” (a promise, it should be added, that could theoretically be fulfilled without drastically overhauling the health care system). Any government-run “public option,” he claimed, somehow “won’t be” subsidized by taxpayers, but instead would “be self-sufficient and rely on the premiums it collects.”

Read the rest

Health Care Reform Is Not About Health, Care, or Reform

August 22, 2009

lego_ambulanceI have come to the conclusion that health care reform is not about health, care, or reform. And this is why.

We already have a government run health care plan in this country – it is called Medicaid. If Medicaid doesn’t cover enough of the people who can’t afford private health insurance or those who can’t get private health insurance at any price, why aren’t we talking about Medicaid reform?

If the reason is because Medicaid is a broken system that is almost out of funds and is rife with fraud at all levels, then why should we believe that a new public health plan would fare any better?

Any real reform of the health care system in America would need to focus on four key issues:

  • Medicaid reform
    Fix what is broken and expand it to cover more of those who need it.
  • Tort reform
    I find the idea of health courts which would be similar to workers’ compensation courts very intriguing.
  • Tax reform
    Employers are allowed to deduct 100% of the health insurance premiums they pay for their employees. Individuals who purchase their own private health insurance should also be allowed to deduct 100% of their premiums on their income tax returns.
  • Regulation reform
    Allow insurance companies to do business across state lines. At the very least, allow them to offer high-deductible, HSA-qualifying plans nationwide.

By giving little, if any, attention to these key points, the federal government is telling us that health care reform is not really the purpose of the various bills currently floating around Congress. The true purpose is to increase tax revenues because government spending is at historic highs while income (in the form of tax revenues) is at historic lows.

This is why the plans, the House bill in particular, have far more sticks than carrots. Revenue will increase through several measures including:

  • New penalty taxes on individuals who do not have health insurance.
  • New penalty taxes on small businesses that do not offer health insurance to employees.
  • Implied increase in corporate taxes on insurance companies will benefit from the plan by picking up millions of new customers who don’t want to get stuck paying the above penalty taxes.
  • New income taxes on the wealthiest citizens.

Will all that money be spent on health care? Does the Social Security Trust Fund contain any actual money? No. Do seriously wounded veterans get their disabilty checks in a timely manner? No.

Again, why should we believe that an enormous new federal social program and its attendant bureaucracy function any better?

Don’t be fooled by all the rhetoric on either side of the ongoing, heated debate. It’s never been about anything but the money.

If It Sounds Too Good to Be True…

August 17, 2009

Silly me. I almost dared to, ahem, hope yesterday that the Obama administration might really be backing away from a government-run health insurance option. It was a guarded hope at best because as Edmund Haislmaier pointed out a few weeks ago at The Foundry:

If by health care “co-op,” Congress means allowing private associations to collectively buy health insurance for their members or operate a health insurance exchange, or allowing people to buy health insurance from a non-profit, member-owned private insurer, then those would be positive, pro-consumer developments.

However, simply slapping the word “cooperative” onto a new “insurer,” but then specifying that the government — not the policyholders — picks the board of directors (as Sen. Schumer wants), or that taxpayers will subsidize it, or that it has to pay doctors and hospitals at Medicare rates, would just be an exercise in trying to disguise a “public plan.”

But today it appears to have been nothing but a mis-statement or a trial balloon. It figures. Washington hasn’t been listening to we the people for a long time. Why start now?

The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare

August 12, 2009

I’ve been jotting down notes for a few days now of the ways I think health care reform could be done effectively as opposed to the half-baked horror currently circulating in Congress.

So I was quite pleased to find the following op-ed in yesterday’s WSJ. Not only is it almost everything I’ve been thinking, it is a case study in how these ideas are actually working in real life.

Your thoughts?

The Whole Foods Alternative to ObamaCare
Eight things we can do to improve health care without adding to the deficit.

By John Mackey

With a projected $1.8 trillion deficit for 2009, several trillions more in deficits projected over the next decade, and with both Medicare and Social Security entitlement spending about to ratchet up several notches over the next 15 years as Baby Boomers become eligible for both, we are rapidly running out of other people’s money. These deficits are simply not sustainable. They are either going to result in unprecedented new taxes and inflation, or they will bankrupt us.

While we clearly need health-care reform, the last thing our country needs is a massive new health-care entitlement that will create hundreds of billions of dollars of new unfunded deficits and move us much closer to a government takeover of our health-care system. Instead, we should be trying to achieve reforms by moving in the opposite direction—toward less government control and more individual empowerment. Here are eight reforms that would greatly lower the cost of health care for everyone:

Remove the legal obstacles that slow the creation of high-deductible health insurance plans and health savings accounts (HSAs). The combination of high-deductible health insurance and HSAs is one solution that could solve many of our health-care problems. For example, Whole Foods Market pays 100% of the premiums for all our team members who work 30 hours or more per week (about 89% of all team members) for our high-deductible health-insurance plan. We also provide up to $1,800 per year in additional health-care dollars through deposits into employees’ Personal Wellness Accounts to spend as they choose on their own health and wellness.

Money not spent in one year rolls over to the next and grows over time. Our team members therefore spend their own health-care dollars until the annual deductible is covered (about $2,500) and the insurance plan kicks in. This creates incentives to spend the first $2,500 more carefully. Our plan’s costs are much lower than typical health insurance, while providing a very high degree of worker satisfaction.

• Equalize the tax laws so that employer-provided health insurance and individually owned health insurance have the same tax benefits. Now employer health insurance benefits are fully tax deductible, but individual health insurance is not. This is unfair.

• Repeal all state laws which prevent insurance companies from competing across state lines. We should all have the legal right to purchase health insurance from any insurance company in any state and we should be able use that insurance wherever we live. Health insurance should be portable.

• Repeal government mandates regarding what insurance companies must cover. These mandates have increased the cost of health insurance by billions of dollars. What is insured and what is not insured should be determined by individual customer preferences and not through special-interest lobbying.

• Enact tort reform to end the ruinous lawsuits that force doctors to pay insurance costs of hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. These costs are passed back to us through much higher prices for health care.

• Make costs transparent so that consumers understand what health-care treatments cost. How many people know the total cost of their last doctor’s visit and how that total breaks down? What other goods or services do we buy without knowing how much they will cost us?

• Enact Medicare reform. We need to face up to the actuarial fact that Medicare is heading towards bankruptcy and enact reforms that create greater patient empowerment, choice and responsibility.

• Finally, revise tax forms to make it easier for individuals to make a voluntary, tax-deductible donation to help the millions of people who have no insurance and aren’t covered by Medicare, Medicaid or the State Children’s Health Insurance Program.

Continue reading

Sadly, I don’t expect to see any of these excellent ideas implemented by the federal government and not just because of partisan politics either.

The unfinished plans in Congress now are heavy on sticks and light on carrots. Why? Because tax revenues have fallen off a cliff.

Sebelius Says Health Reform Will Empower Families

August 7, 2009

In an op-ed from July 28, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says “health reform will empower families against market constraints”. She goes on to say that it’s all about just four things.

So what will reform actually look like?

First, to provide Americans with more affordable choices, we’ll set up a marketplace where you can compare plans and pick the one that’s right for you. None of the plans would be allowed to deny you coverage because of a pre-existing condition. And one of the options should be a public plan that would increase competition and keep private insurance companies honest.

Second, we have to align incentives for doctors and hospitals so that they’re rewarded based on the quality of care they provide, not on how many tests or procedures they prescribe.

Third, we need to move from a sickness system to a wellness system. By investing in prevention and emphasizing healthy lifestyles, we can save money while improving health.

Finally, reform must not add to our deficit over the next ten years. To that end, we have already identified hundreds of billions of dollars in savings – savings from money that’s already being spent on health care, but is funding waste and overpayments to insurance companies.

Uh-huh. Just one question Secretary Sebelius – if that’s really all it’s about, why is the House bill over a thousand pages long?