1. Cost: The Congressional Budget Office estimates the House health care program will cost $1.5 trillion over the next decade and $2.6 trillion for the decade after 2014. And as most such estimates are low, don’t be surprised when the price-tag soars.
2. Public option: The bill contains a robust public-option insurance feature, that is sure to eventually undercut private insurers and is likely to lead to a single-payer government take-over of health care.
3. Taxes: The House bill includes $572 billion in new taxes, mostly from imposing a 5.4% “surcharge” on families earning over $1 million, and $500,000 for singles. And since the tax is not indexed for inflation it will immediately start gobbling up more taxpayers.
4. Qualified plans: Everyone will be required to enroll in a “qualified plan.” The secretary of Health and Human Services will decide what a “qualified plan” covers and how much it costs.
5. Penalties: If you don’t get health insurance, pay a fine or go to jail. A tax equal to 2.5% of adjusted gross income will be imposed on people who refuse to buy insurance. Those who refuse to pay the penalty face time in jail.
6. Cost to families and individuals: The Congressional Budget Office estimates that an individual earning $44,000 before taxes who purchases his own insurance will have to pay a $5,300 premium and an estimated $2,000 in out-of-pocket expenses, for a total of $7,300 a year, or 17% of his pre-tax income. A family earning $102,100 a year before taxes will have to pay a $15,000 premium plus an estimated $5,300 out-of-pocket, for a $20,300 total, or 20% of its pre-tax income.
7. Business mandate: The bill imposes a mandate for most business to provide health insurance to their workers or pay an 8% payroll tax. This provision will likely lead to employers’ dumping their workers into the public option, since the fine is smaller than premiums.
8. Medicare and Medicaid: The bill harshly cuts Medicare while expanding Medicaid to include everyone below 150% of the poverty line. Particularly hard-hit by cuts will be Medicare Advantage, which is used by 20% of seniors.
9. Illegal immigrants: The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the number of illegal immigrants covered under the just-passed House bill will increase by 2.5 million from the original House bill, H.R. 3200.
10. Medical Savings Accounts: The bill caps at $2,500 the amount an employee can contribute to a healthcare Medical Savings Account, penalizing people taking advantage of one of the few programs which helps to keep medical costs in check.