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Small Business Employee Benefits and HR Blog

Ten Questions Every American Should Know the Answer To

In her WSJ article today, "Ten Questions on the Health-Care Overhaul", Janet Adamy says it best:

It is crunch time for health care. Lawmakers who are trying to fundamentally remake one-sixth of the U.S. economy say this might be the most complicated legislation they have undertaken.

Here are some basics that everyone can grasp -- and probably ought to, because the health bill, if it passes, will affect almost everyone.

Janet is right.  This legislation will affect everyone, yet 9/10 Americans do not understand the basics of healthcare policy. 

To her credit, Ms. Adamy provides a nice summary of the healthcare reform taking place in Washington, D.C. that every American NEEDS to understand.

For your convenience, I have provided the following Key Quotes for each of the 10 questions/answers:

1. What is the problem with health care, anyway? Is it as bad as they say? 

Key Quote: "...some 46 million people don't have health coverage. To be sure, that oft-cited number ... is somewhat misleading because it includes illegal immigrants, healthy young adults who don't think they need insurance and poor people who are eligible for Medicaid."

2. Can Democrats and Republicans agree on anything? 

Key Quote: "It amounts to a twin mandate -- one on insurers to sell policies, and another on Americans to buy them."

3. Where are the main points of disagreement?

Key Quote:  "Congress ... remains divided over whether to make employers (except really small ones) provide insurance." 

4. What would a public plan look like? 

Key Quote:  "... most people probably wouldn't even be eligible for the public plan."

5. Why is the total price of the overhaul so expensive, especially considering that it is designed to bring down costs?

Key Quote:  "The cost mostly comes from giving people subsidies to buy insurance, and from expanding Medicaid"

6. What are the most likely ways to pay for the overhaul?

Key Quote:  "The wealthy are a natural target."

7. Which industries are most likely to lose, and which to gain, from any overhaul?

Key Quote:  "Perhaps no industry stands to gain more from the changes than health insurers, who would get tens of millions of new customers because Americans would be required by law to carry health insurance.   The big losers would be retailers, restaurants and other businesses with low-income workers who provide little or no health insurance, since they would be forced to start paying for it."

8. I already have insurance through my job - what happens to me?

Key Quote:  "Longer term, a lot could change. For instance, your employer could drop coverage, preferring to pay the penalty for doing so and deflecting employees to Uncle Sam's plan."

9. Politicians have tried for decades to push universal health insurance. Why did they always fail before? Why would this time be any different?

Key Quote:  "What is different now is that major health and other interest groups are on board with the idea." 

10. What happens if the effort once again fails?

Key Quote:  "... it would probably be several years before lawmakers tried again."  

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