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Affordable Health Insurance

Many families and individuals across the nation are in search of finding affordable health insurance. However, as the cost of the medical insurance keeps rising medical coverage is less affordable year by year. This section covers news and research about where the health insurance is affordable and what the government or private companies are doing with health care reform.

Legislation Would Exempt Small Businesses' Health Insurance Coverage Premiums

Reps. Ron Kind (D-Wis.) and Wally Herger (R-Calif.) have introduced legislation (HR 3660) that would allow self-employed individuals to deduct the cost of health insurance premiums from their payroll taxes, the Washington Post reports (McLoone, Washington Post, 9/26). Under current law, sole proprietorships cannot exclude health insurance premiums from payroll taxes of 15.3%, while corporations can deduct premiums as a business expense and exclude the cost of premiums from payroll taxes (Boulton, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 10/4).

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Rate Of Uninsured US Residents Younger Than Age 65 Has Increased

The number of uninsured U.S. residents younger than 65 rose to 46.4 million people, or 17.9% of that population, according to a report released Thursday by the Employee Benefit Research Institute, the Kansas City Star reports. The report also included the following findings:

* More than 25% of self-employed workers were uninsured, while almost 20% of all workers lacked insurance;

* More than 35% of workers at private-sector firms with less than 10 employees were uninsured, compared with 13% of workers at firms with 1,000 or more employees;

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Study Spotlights Growing Role Of Medicare In Propping Up Nation's Medicaid Program

New BDO Seidman study of the nation's Medicaid program draws much needed attention to a chronic and worsening problem: Medicare's cross-subsidization of increasingly inadequate Medicaid payments for nursing home care.

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Program Will Combine Medicare, Insurer Claims Data To Accurately Determine Quality, Cost Of Physician Care

Health policy leaders announced a new program that will combine Medicare and private health insurers' claims data to provide more complete and accurate information on the cost and quality of physician care.

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Medicare Reimbursement Cuts Should Be Blocked

With a Medicare reimbursement cut of 10%scheduled for physicians in January 2008, health care providers and their "well-armed lobbyists are pressing Democratic leaders to make the first changes to Medicare policy since they took control of Congress," CQ Weekly reports. The cut could have a wide impact because it is likely to affect reimbursement rates from insurers, who typically use government programs' payment levels as guidelines.

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Medicare Part B Premiums To Increase By 3.1% In 2008

CMS on Monday announced that the standard monthly premium for Medicare Part B, which covers physician visits and outpatient hospital care, will increase by $2.90, or 3.1%, to $96.40 in 2008 -- the smallest increase since 2000, when the premium remained the same, the New York Times reports. Most of the 43 million Medicare beneficiaries pay the standard monthly premium. About 5% of higher-income Medicare beneficiaries -- those with annual incomes that exceed $82,000 for individuals or $164,000 for couples -- pay a higher monthly premium on a sliding scale.

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