Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Health Reform: Just The Facts, Ma'am

Just the facts, Ma’am

Catchphrase of Dragnet TV Series

Joe Friday, the cop star created by Jack Webb, used to cut short those he was interviewing or investigating by saying, “Just the facts, Ma’am.”

Here I shall cut short the rhetoric, pro and con, on the health reform bill's signing, by giving the immediate facts as written in the bill.

Individuals will be required to buy health insurance or face a fine. Government subsidies will be available for people making up to $43,000 per year (or $88,200 per year for a family of four). Those who don't qualify for government subsidies will pay about $5,000 a year for a policy on the exchange, while families will pay about $15,000. Penalties start in 2014 at $95 or up to 1 percent of income for individuals, whichever is greater, and rises to $695 by 2016 or 2.5 percent of income, whichever is greater. Families pay heftier fines - $2,085 or 2.5 percent of income by 2016.

Within six months to a year after bill is signed.

• Health insurers will no longer be allowed to cap lifetime coverage.

• Parents who have insurance through their employers can continue coverage for unmarried dependents up to age 26.

• Health insurers will cover certain preventive services like osteoporosis screening for women over 65, smoking cessation counseling and interventions, and screenings for diabetes and sexually transmitted diseases.

• People with serious health conditions that have prevented them from getting coverage will be eligible to purchase a policy from a high-risk pool in a government-subsidized exchange at a cost similar to healthy individuals' premiums.

• Insurers can't deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

• Maternity support will go up for women in the workplace.

• Less expensive insurance options will be available when you lose or quit your job.

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