The House Health Care Bill: The Mandates

The new House bill, H.R. 3962, builds on its predecessor from July in increasing the financial burden on low-income and moderate-income Americans.

The Individual Mandate. Like the earlier version, this bill requires the uninsured to pay an extra income tax — 2.5% of adjusted gross income above the filing threshold, capped at the national average premium. Paying that tax wouldn’t “buy” anything; those paying this tax would remain uninsured. However, in a bid to decrease the government’s costs, this bill contains higher premiums that low- and moderate-income individuals and families would have to pay for health coverage to avoid the tax. Those premiums would increase rapidly with income, amounting to an additional tax on those with incomes below 4 times the federal poverty level (equivalent to about $88,000 per year for a family of four) ranging from 1.5% to 12%. This tax on low and moderate income Americans would be in addition to a “surtax” on higher incomes ranging up to 5.4%.

The Employer Mandate. The bill imposes a new 8% payroll tax on employers who don’t cover specified percentages of their employees’ health insurance. Employers would have to get the money to pay the tax from someplace, and much of it would come from cutting wages or other benefits. This tax would also not go to pay for any coverage; the bill specifically says that the tax paid by the employer “shall not be applied against the premium of the employee.” Furthermore, since this tax would be lower than the cost of providing health care, especially for low-income workers, this would reduce the incomes of those most likely to be uninsured, or cause them to lose their coverage.

Furthermore, health plans would have to meet new requirements to be specified later by the new “Health Choices Commissioner.” If your employer’s health plan doesn’t meet those requirements, you couldn’t keep it – employers would have five years to bring their plans into compliance. The Commissioner could require coverage of services people don’t want (increasing premiums), and then in the name of “cost containment” prohibit plans from covering services people want but that the Commissioner doesn’t want.

The bottom line is: Almost everybody will pay more, and a new appointed bureaucrat will make your health care choices for you.

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