Republican Obamacare: How It Differs Between Individuals and Corporations
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) Over the last several years one of the most persistent political narratives has been the corporate lurch of the Republican party. From Mitt Romney's infamous "corporations are people" to the steady drumbeat of 5-4 decisions favoring business interests out of the John Roberts Court, the party has been unable to escape the image that its policies favor big money above all.
The recent unveiling by Senate Republicans of their version of health care reform, the Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility and Empowerment, or "CARE," Act, has given us another look inside the policy machinery of the party. The question is, when it comes to balancing the interests of individuals vs. corporations, how well does the CARE Act stack up?
Life would get slightly harder for individuals. The Patient CARE proposal eliminates the general ban on pre-existing conditions with one condition. Anyone can get insurance if the person has already had it, uninterrupted, for the past 18 months. Pre-existing conditions wouldn't exist for the insured and will return for everyone else.
The continuous coverage rule means that companies only need to cover people who already have insurance. In fact, they would be free to make "uninsured" itself a pre-existing condition. The Patient CARE Act also makes no mention of measures to prevent lost paperwork, unprocessed bills or other gimmicks to shed unwanted bodies.
The Patient CARE Act would keep Obamacare's rules in place for beneficiaries: no lifetime limit on benefits, no lost coverage because you got sick. This makes insurance more thorough and secure for individuals.
Under the Patient CARE Act insurance companies would remain liable for unlimited coverage on each insured (co-pays plan requirements notwithstanding). It will get more expensive for companies to cover people under these rules.
Currently individuals who get insurance from an employer can deduct 100% of the value from their taxes. Under the Patient CARE Act they could only deduct 65%, an effective tax increase. Individuals who are self employed or work for small businesses would get a tax credit to help purchase insurance.
Corporations would continue to deduct 100% of their employees' health insurance costs. Small businesses would no longer be required to provide health insurance for their employees.
Minimum standards for insurance plans would be removed leading to reduced coverage for issues like mental illness and birth control. The actual impact of this on individuals remains debated. Supporters of minimum standards argue that they're important to protect low income consumers, while opponents claim that minimum standards drive up prices unnecessarily.
It would become easier for companies to offer a wide range of low end products. They would be able to charge premiums for low-use issue like mental health.