Here’s the first summary. The whole thing was written by the Associated Press, so I take no credit. I tried to actually find this on the Associated Press website, but I couldn’t find it.
WHO’S COVERED: Around 94 percent of non-elderly residents (those not covered by Medicare, which kicks in at age 65) would be covered — compared with 81 percent today. Nearly half the 17 million non-elderly residents who remain uninsured would be illegal immigrants.
COST: About $1.5 trillion over 10 years.
HOW IT’S PAID FOR: Revenue-raisers include $544 billion over the next decade from new income taxes on single people making more than $280,000 a year and couples making more than $350,000; $37 billion in business tax increases; about $500 billion in cuts to Medicare and Medicaid; sizable penalties paid by individuals and employers who don’t obtain coverage.
REQUIREMENTS FOR INDIVIDUALS: Individuals must have insurance, enforced through tax penalty with hardship waivers. The penalty is 2.5 percent of income.
REQUIREMENTS FOR EMPLOYERS: Employers must provide insurance to their employees or pay a penalty of 8 percent of payroll. Companies with payroll under $250,000 annually are exempt. That level could rise to $500,000 under a deal between House leaders and fiscal conservatives.
Employers could apply for a two-year exemption from the mandate if they can prove the requirements would result in job losses that would negatively affect their communities.
SUBSIDIES: Individuals and families with annual income up to 400 percent of poverty level ($88,000 for a family of four) would get sliding-scale subsidies to help them buy coverage. The subsidies would begin in 2013.
HOW YOU CHOOSE YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE: Through a new Health Insurance Exchange open to individuals and, initially, small employers; it could be expanded to large employers over time. States could opt to operate their own exchanges in place of the national exchange if they follow federal rules.
BENEFIT PACKAGE: A committee would recommend an “essential benefits package” including preventive services, mental health services, oral heath and vision for children; out-of pocket costs would be capped. The new benefit package would be the basic benefit package offered in the exchange and over time would become the minimum quality standard for employer plans. Insurers wouldn’t be able to deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
GOVERNMENT-RUN PLAN: A new public plan available through the insurance exchanges would be set up and run by the secretary of Health and Human Services. Democrats originally designed the plan to pay Medicare rates plus 5 percent to doctors, but under Wednesday’s deal with the fiscal conservatives the HHS secretary would instead negotiate rates with providers.
CHANGES TO MEDICAID: The federal-state insurance program for the poor would be expanded starting in 2013 to cover all non-elderly individuals with incomes up to 133 percent of the federal poverty level ($14,404).
DRUGS: Grants 12 years of market protection to high-tech drugs used to combat cancer, Parkinson’s and other deadly diseases.
I want to hear what you think.