Healthcare Reform Update

Susan Baida - December 11, 2009 01:53 PM

I recently wrote an article outlining what changes were being considered as part of healthcare reform.  In recent days a new proposal has been discussed in the United States Senate and I wanted to provide an update on the key parts of it.  

  • Medicare Buy-in for People Ages 55-65 – The Senate bill will lower the age people can sign up for Medicare from 65 to 55 and allow people between 55 and 65 to buy-in to this program if they do not have other insurance.  This would be the largest expansion of Medicare since it began more than 40 years ago.
  • Federal Employees Health Program Option – The Senate bill will create a national insurance program mirroring the Federal Employees Health Program where the uninsured could buy health coverage.  It would be run by the federal government but would include only private insurance plans.  The Federal Employees Health Program covers all federal workers including Congress.
  • Public Health Insurance Option “Trigger” – Under the Senate proposal, the public health insurance option would only be established if private insurers do not participate in the Federal Employees Health Program described above. 
  • Reform of the Insurance Market – The Senate bill will require that insurance companies spend at least 90 cents of every dollar on health care services.  Many insurers currently spend 85 cents or less of every dollar on medical care.

The US House of Representatives has already passed a version of healthcare reform and the Senate is expected to vote on its bill before Christmas.  Once that occurs, the two bills will need to be reconciled and passed again by both houses of Congress before they can be sent to the President for signature.  We will continue to keep the eCare Diary community updated on this important issue as it moves through the legislative process.

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