11 Ways The House Bill Is Much Better Than The Baucus Bill
The Harry Reid is in the process of merging the two Senate bills, but what the final Senate product will be is still a secret. For the most part, the bill from the Senate Finance Committee (SFC) is expected to serve as the base that the new Senate bill is being built upon. It is by far the worse of the two Senate committee bills.
Here is a compare/contrast between the new House version and the Baucus version of the Senate bill. The House bill is superior in many ways:
- It covers more people. The Senate Finance Committee (SFC) bill, written by Max Baucus, would only provide coverage to an additional 29 million people. The House bill with extend coverage to roughly 36 million individuals. That is 7 million more people.
- Contains a public health insurance option. The SFC bill did not contain a public option.
- Employer mandate instead of “free rider” provision. The “free rider” provision is a terrible and probably unworkable idea that would hurt low-income Americans.
- Stronger, better regulated exchange. At the insistence of Olympia Snowe, the SFC’s exchange was made basically worthless, the equivalent of a health care yellow pages. The House bill will let the exchange use its power to help hold down premiums and get the best deal for customers.
- Lower out-of-pocket cap. The House bill places an annual out-of-pocket limit on expenses for individuals at $5,000 and families at $10,000. The SFC places the annual limit at $5,950 for individuals and $11,900 for families
- Higher quality insurance plans. In the House bill’s lowest qualified plans must have an actuarial value of 70 percent. In the SFC bill, the lowest qualified plans must only have an actuarial value of 65 percent.
- More generous affordablity tax credits. The House bill will provide working class American families more help affording health insurance than the SFC bill will.
- Tighter age ratings. The House bill will only allow insurance companies to charge older people twice as much as younger individuals. The SFC bill would let insurance companies charge older people four times as much. The health insurance lobby has been pushing hard for an age rating of 5:1.
- Minimum medical loss ratio. In the House bill, there is a minimum medical loss ratio of at least 85%. An insurance company needs to use 85 cents of every dollar it brings in through premiums to pay for claims. The SFC bill does not have a minimum medical loss ratio.
- One national exchange instead of state-based exchanges. Creating a single national exchange is better than having states create 50 different state-based exchanges like the SFC bill. It should increase efficiency and bring down cost.
- Better ombudsman. Both bills would create a new health care ombudsman office (or offices) to help people deal with insurance companies. In the SFC bill, people would only be allowed to seek help from the ombudsman if their internal appeals last more than three months, or they were facing a life-threatening situation. The House bill puts no restrictions on when a person could seek help from the ombudsman.
These are not the only eleven ways the House bill is significantly better than the bill written by Baucus, they are just some of the most glaring examples.