Baucus unveils his affordable health care insurance option

Jenny Decker RN's picture
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In a plan that is estimated to cost roughly $856 billion over 10 years, Senator Baucus unveiled his affordable health care insurance option on Wednesday. The cost is significantly lower than the $1 trillion cost of the other four bills that are currently in the Senate and the House of Representatives. Baucus’ hope is that it will not increase the budget deficit, writes Reuters.

With the proposed new affordable health care insurance option, Baucus was hoping to win over Republican support. However instead, Republicans did not like the plan and Baucus even alienated several Democrats in the process. The chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Baucus is still positive he will win over the support he needs in the healthcare debate.

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In the last of the five bills presented for overhauling the expensive $2.5 trillion health care industry of America, if the bill is passed, it would require all citizens of the U.S. and legal residents to purchase health care insurance. Of course, there would be subsidies provided on a sliding scale in order to assist those who need it. Also included would be a levy on health care companies and insurers. Medicaid expansion is included in the Baucus’ affordable health care insurance option.

The Baucus plan does not include a government run insurance option. This has many of would-be supporters backing down. As a positive note to balance this out, Baucus proposes that his plan would create the opportunity for individuals to shop for their own policies in an insurance exchange. The plans would offer four levels of coverage, writes CNNMoney. These plans include bronze, silver, gold, and platinum. Preventive care would be covered 100% and health insurance companies would not be allowed to deny someone coverage because of a pre-existing condition, nor would they be allowed to cap the amount of benefits that an individual person has. Other benefits covered are primary care, maternity and newborn care, dental and vision care, and prescription drugs.

For those unable to purchase health care insurance because of cost, there will be an affordability credit. This is where the person would pay the amount he was supposed to pay based on a sliding scale and the federal government would pay the rest. Based on Americans who bring in between 100% and 200% of poverty level, the plan would subsidize the out-of-pocket costs such as co-payments and deductibles. However, this plan does not provide as much subsidy as the other plans do. Democrats are questioning this aspect of the bill. Their concern is that insurance may still be too much for many Americans to afford. If a person does not carry insurance under Senator Baucus’ plan, then he/she will be penalized with a fine.

With Senator Baucus’ affordable health care insurance proposal, Medicaid eligibility will be standardized across the country and available to those whose income is at or below 133% of the federal poverty level. This means that to be eligible, a family of four could make $30,000 or an individual could make $14,000 a year. Some states are concerned that they would not be able to afford an expansion in Medicaid. In the final elements of the affordable health insurance plan, it is feared that with the $349 billion worth of taxes and fees that would be imposed on health care insurers, pharmaceutical companies, medical equipment companies, and other such health industry companies, that the added cost to them would then be pushed back onto the consumer. Is this really a cost-saving plan?

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