Friday, May 15, 2009

The Hidden Cost of Health Care Reform

The days of affordable health insurance in Georgia and elsewhere as well may be doomed. If Washington get's their way, look for the cost of funding health care reform to rise significantly, not drop. Some of the ideas floated around include the following.

Require medical providers to switch to EMR (electronic medical records). The projected savings are overstated and the cost is not fully revealed. Some funds are allocated as part of the so-called stimulus bill, but those are tax dollars. Remember, the federal government doesn't have any money except what they take from us.

Even those dollars are not enough to fund the transition to EMR, the rest will have to come from the medical providers. And where will they get those dollars?

From us in the form of higher fees for medical services which translate into higher health insurance premiums.

We have also learned Congress is frantically looking for new tax sources. They have already increased tobacco taxes to fund increases in Peachcare (SCHIP) and now they are back for round two. The so-called sin taxes, increased taxes on beer, tobacco and soda, are among items on the table.

Who pays those taxes?


Bloomberg News is reporting that Congress is considering a mandate requiring employers to provide health insurance for their workers.
U.S. House Democrats are weighing an expansion of the government's role in health care that would include a mandate that employers provide coverage to all full- time workers or pay a percentage of their payroll to the Treasury.
This can impact businesses, their employees and customers in several ways. Businesses that currently do not offer health insurance will have to do so but how will they fund it?

One way is to lay off employees to offset the increased costs or reduce hours. An employee who was full time and now has fewer hours as a result of government intervention not only takes home less money but by being reclassified as part time will become ineligible for health insurance benefits.

Another way is to increase the cost of goods & services sold to their customer base. Higher prices paid by you and me translates into a hidden tax.
Congress' tax-writing committees would decide whether higher taxes are part of the overhaul. One idea under consideration is to tax part of employees' health benefits, which aren't subject to income taxes now.
This is both a hidden tax and an explicit tax.

If you receive benefits from your employer now, the portion paid by the employer is not included in payroll and does not appear as a taxable item on your paystub. Since they are not counted as payroll, it also means your employer does not pay FICA tax, SUTA, FUTA or workers comp premiums on those amounts.

If Congress decides to tax those benefits, you take home less money, the employer pays more taxes and higher workers comp premiums and passes those along to customerss.

And let's not overlook the so-called government subsidies so low income people can afford health care and health insurance.
Government subsidies for coverage would be available to some consumers. Individuals with incomes of as much as $88,200 for a family of four would get aid, on a sliding scale, and their annual out-of-pocket health expenses would be capped.
Where do government subsidies come from?

You and me in the form of higher taxes.

And in what world is $88k considered low income?

Just more stupid government tricks played on folks who think everything from the government is free.
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