Sounds like a win-win for insurers.
The long-awaited Baucus bill includes a mandate for most Americans to purchase health insurance, but with NO public option. Nor does it require employers to provide insurance, although employers with more than 50 workers who do not provide insurance must reimburse the government for some of the cost workers receive — if that coverage is taxpayer-funded.
Penalties for individuals and families who do not purchase insurance range from $750 to $3,800.
Under this plan, insurers would no longer be able to deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions, insurance companies would no longer be able to impose annual or lifetime limits on coverage, and eligibility for Medicaid would be broadened.
With no public option, the bill relies instead on web-based insurance exchanges that would include all options within your zip code, and standardized health plan premiums and coverage information. Theoretically, consumers will choose from a variety of non-profit, consumer owned and oriented plans. The exchanges would also provide information on eligibility for tax credits.
If the Baucus plan was to get Republicans on board, it is unlikely to do so, and the lack of an employer mandate or a public option will most certainly alienate liberal Democrats.
I imagine that insurers are doing the dance of joy.
As a person with a pre-existing condition, who is being clobbered by premiums and out-of-pocket expenses, I remain skeptical of any health care reform package that does not include a strong public option to keep insurers honest and costs down. No reform is better than lousy reform.
But nothing’s written in stone yet — the whole health care reform issue is still a work in progress. Any bill that includes no employer mandate, but an individual mandate — and no public option, must not be allowed to pass. Now that’s a moral issue.
More from Care2:
From The Petition Site: We Demand a Public Option.
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