Feds Seek Affordable Health Insurance Steps
Affordable health insurance is important to many Americans. Consumers, providers, employers, and employees all have a stake in the game of insurance coverage. President Obama and a group of Senators are seeking ways to produce more affordable health insurance plans for Americans. Some health industry experts say this is a long-needed measure, others argue that the plans at hand will have undesirable results.
Officials claim costs of implementing these steps will amount to $1.5 trillion by the year 2020. President Obama and members of Congress are currently examining ways to raise these funds. The road to affordable health insurance is looking more expensive every step of the way. Consumers can expect to pay more for alcoholic beverages, drinks and foods high in sugar, and for some, taxes on their health benefits.
Some House and Senate members are proposing legislation that would require all Americans have health insurance by 2013. Currently, illegal aliens and people with religious objections would be allowed exemption from such a law. Representatives and Senators pushing for this legislation claim mandating everyone be insured is key in creating affordable health insurance for the entire country. Such a plan already exists in Massachusetts, where emigration rates are high as individuals flee tax penalties for not carrying health insurance.
Current legislation plans also target employers. Companies with payroll exceeding $500,000 would be required to provide insurance for employees for face a new tax penalty. These employers would be required to cover 50% of a worker's premium costs. While this may appear as a way to create affordable health insurance for workers, such steps could create wage deflation as some employers seek to fall below the key $500,000 mark on their payroll. For larger companies, these costs will simply be passed along to both workers and consumers and clients of the company.
Government leaders are drawing up guidelines for minimal standards for benefits. Legislation being drawn up would mandate insurance companies offer four varying levels of coverage, lowest, low, medium, and high. Government regulations would be set on marketing strategies, similar to current regulations placed on Medicare plans. Officials say regulations will create affordable health insurance by controlling prices through controlling aspects of offered plans. Such measures though could create false price floors, driving providers out of business.
Some lawmakers want to create an insurance exchange. This system would allow individuals to apply for more affordable health insurance plans from companies by filling out one standard form. Through the insurance exchange workers could opt out of employer-provided plans and purchase individual plans. Company leaders worry such options though could weaken their company pools, leaving only those workers consuming the majority of health care benefits.
The current plans at hand call for much stronger government intervention to create affordable health insurance for Americans. Critics say the proposed measures will do just the opposite, creating additional costs everywhere for consumers. False price floors will drive private providers out of business who will no longer be able to provide the measures mandated by federal law. Less competition and more regulation will hamper efforts to create affordable health insurance.