They passed it, and now we are finding out what is in it. For over a year now experts have been painstakingly poring through the 2500+ pages of legislation and mandates created in The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (HR 3590) and The Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 (HR 4872) and the debate continues on whether to repeal or fix it. As the timeline rolls out for compliance over the next few years it will become increasingly clear that there are quite a few mandates thrown in that our representatives will deny having any knowledge of, since they did not read it! What we have seen so far from this disastrous monstrosity of legislation is that we and our physicians will be so tied up in bureaucracy; from mountains of paperwork, to bureaucrats getting in between our doctors and ourselves, to employers providing insurance that contains “minimum essential coverage” which has yet to be fully disclosed for their employees, to the policing of our coverage by the IRS to make sure we have purchased what the government deems to be acceptable health insurance coverage. Physicians will also be subject to fines for not providing care to their patients as dictated by a panel of bureaucrats.
The individual mandate in this bill is unprecedented in our history. The Cato Institute’s Michael D. Tanner has published a comprehensive analysis of this heath care reform bill in his much more readable 61 page Bad Medicine: A Guide to the Real Costs and Consequences of the New Health Care Law. He states that “what we are finding increasingly looks like it will leave Americans less healthy, less prosperous and less free.”
In his analysis he breaks down the timeline of what provisions will go into effect and when. Already implemented:
- A ten percent tax imposed on tanning salons.
- Seniors with prescription drug costs of at least $2700.00 will receive a check for $250.00
- $5 billion temporary insurance program for employers who provide health insurance for retirees over age 55 who are not yet eligible for Medicare. The program ends in 2014.
- Insurers are required to provide coverage for children regardless of preexisting conditions. The prohibition on excluding preexisting conditions does not apply to adults until 2014.
- High risk pools established to cover adults with pre-existing conditions, but will be eliminated after the ban on excluding preexisting conditions goes into effect in 2014.
- Parents may keep their children on their insurance plan until the child reaches age 26.
- Lifetime caps on insurance benefits are prohibited.
- Restaurants and vending machines are required to post calorie counts.
This week we discovered that, effective August 1, 2011, according to the U.S.Department of Health and Human Services “Under the Affordable Care Act, women’s preventive health care – such as mammograms, screenings for cervical cancer, prenatal care, and other services – is covered with no cost sharing for new health plans.” The list of services that are to be covered with no co-payare; well-woman visits, screening for gestational diabetes, human papillomavirus testing, counseling for sexually transmitted infections, screening and counseling for human immune-deficiency virus, contraceptive methods and counseling, breastfeeding support, supplies and counseling, and screening and counseling for interpersonal and domestic violence. This will surely drive up the cost of health insurance premiums and cause more employers to opt out of providing coverage for their employees and pay the fines instead. The administration will vilify these corporations, calling them greedy, corporate jet-flying, profit-making millionaires and billionaires. It has structured the laws in such a way that in the long run it will be cheaper and involve less bureaucracy for corporations to opt out. Nationalized health care was the goal of this president and despite all of the opposition it is what we now have. Most Americans do not realize this yet, because of the extended timeline for the rollout of the various aspects of this bill.
The individual mandate takes effect in 2014. Failure to comply will result in a fine equal to 1% of income. Penalties increase to 2% in 2015, and 2.5% in 2016. The IRS will be able to withhold any tax refunds to pay these fines if you have not provided proof of acceptable insurance.
Michael D. Tanner states that “the combination of taxes and subsidies in this law results in a substantial redistribution of income” and “it is a tax and regulatory nightmare.” He also states “More than 2/3 of companies could be forced to change their current coverage.”
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has already granted over 1400 waivers to corporations. The first waiver should have invalidated the entire bill.