Whoever says reform won’t cost you a dime hasn’t read the House bill

Tue, 12/01/2009 - 4:24pm
By: Letters to the ...

When polling Americans about healthcare, there are ways to get two very different answers to the same question.

If you ask people, “Should everyone be required to have healthcare?” the answer comes back 67 percent yes, 27 percent no.

However, when the question is rephrased to “Should we require everybody to carry insurance, or face a federal penalty?” it flips to 64 percent no, and 28 percent yes.

Perhaps if the media would bother reporting on all of the new taxes this plan carries with it, support would dip even lower.

Let’s look at a few of those new taxes those wacky guys in Washington have put into the healthcare bill (H.R. 3590). This will be about as much fun as having a tooth drilled. Sweet!

Individual Mandate Tax (Page 324/Sec. 1501): Starting in 2014, anyone not buying “qualifying” health insurance must pay an income surtax to be capped at 8 percent of income. (Exemptions for religious objectors, undocumented immigrants, prisoners, those earning less than the poverty line, members of Indian tribes, and hardship cases, determined by HHS.)

Employer Mandate Tax (Page 348/Sec. 1513): If an employer does not offer health coverage, and at least one employee qualifies for a health tax credit, the employer must pay an additional non-deductible tax of $750 for all full-time employees. This applies to all employers with 50 or more employees.

Excise Tax on Comprehensive Health Insurance Plans (Page 1979/Sec. 9001): Starting in 2013, new 40 percent excise tax on “Cadillac” health insurance plans ($8,500 single/$23,000 family). Higher threshold ($9,850 single/$26,000 family) for early retirees and high-risk professions.

Medicine Cabinet Tax (Page 1997/Sec. 9003): No longer allowable to use health savings account (HSA), flexible spending account (FSA), or health reimbursement (HRA) pre-tax dollars to purchase non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines (except insulin).

HSA Withdrawal Tax Hike (Page 1998/Sec. 9004): Increases additional tax on non-medical early withdrawals from an HSA from 10 to 20 percent, disadvantaging them relative to IRAs and other tax-advantaged accounts, which remain at 10 percent.

FSA Cap (Page 1999/Sec. 9005): Imposes cap on FSAs of $2,500 (now unlimited).

Corporate 1099-MISC Information Reporting (Page 1999/Sec. 9006): Requires businesses to send 1099-MISC information tax forms to corporations (currently limited to individuals), a huge compliance burden for small employers.

Excise Tax on Charitable Hospitals (Page 2001/Sec. 9007): $50,000 per hospital if they fail to meet new “community health assessment needs,” “financial assistance,” and “billing and collection” rules set by HHS.

Tax on Innovator Drug Companies (Page 2010/Sec. 9008): $2.3 billion annual tax on the industry imposed relative to share of sales made that year.

Tax on Medical Device Manufacturers (Page 2020/Sec. 9009): $2 billion annual tax on the industry imposed relative to shares of sales made that year. This exempts items retailing for less than $100.

Tax on Health Insurers (Page 2026/Sec. 9010): $6.7 billion annual tax on the industry imposed relative to health insurance premiums collected that year.

Eliminate tax deduction for employer-provided retirement Rx drug coverage in coordination with Medicare Part D (Page 2034/Sec. 9012).

Hike in Medicare Payroll Tax (Page 2040/Sec. 9015). The special tax deduction in current law for Blue Cross/Blue Shield companies would only be allowed if 85 percent or more of premium revenues are spent on clinical services.

Tax on Cosmetic Medical Procedures (Page 2045/Sec. 9017): New 5 percent excise tax on elective cosmetic surgery to be paid by the surgery patient.

So, next time all of those smiling politicians step up to the microphone and tell you that healthcare reform won’t cost you or your country a single dime (“deficit neutral”), ask them if they read their own bill.

Dave Edinger

Peachtree City, Ga.

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