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Kerry health insurance plan questions
Old 10-10-2004, 06:58 AM   #1
 
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Kerry health insurance plan questions

I view health insurance as my lone remaining barrier to ER, so I'm very interested in how Kerry's plan would affect me. I assume his plan would be of great interest to many on this board?

I read his website but I'm having trouble understanding exactly what he is saying, except that the main overall goal of his plan is to reduce insurance cost by "an average of $1000 per year per family". I can't tell where I am in relation to "average" but $1000 certainly doesn't solve my problem. He also isn't clear if the $1000 is a reduction from today's cost, or maybe from some nebulous projection of future years' costs, in which case the $1000 would be at best a slight temporary relief and at worst just an accounting gimmick.

But what's interesting is that he then says he will protect workers "between jobs" with a 75% tax CREDIT (not deduction) for health insurance costs! Now that is some real money, and the question is how long could I qualify for that status after I "quit"? (Common sense tells me this falls into the "too good to be true" category.)

I would appreciate any insight anyone would care to share. (No political punditry please, just facts...)
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Re: Kerry health insurance plan questions
Old 10-10-2004, 07:08 AM   #2
 
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Re: Kerry health insurance plan questions

I would not base your plans on what any politician says. Remember all plans have to be approved by Congress. Tryiing to understand a politicians plans, so that you make a decisision is like counting the chicks before the eggs are even laid.

Voting for a candidate is based on a Candidates record, party and Philosophy. Plans are used as discussion vehicles only.
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Re: Kerry health insurance plan questions
Old 10-10-2004, 07:22 AM   #3
 
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Re: Kerry health insurance plan questions

I'm not basing my plans on it, just my vote. Although I'm pretty sure Kerry will be elected, there's no guarantee he will get any of this passed. He certainly would try though - it's one of the centerpieces of his campaign. That's why I would like to get a clearer understanding of the plan...
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Re: Kerry health insurance plan questions
Old 10-10-2004, 08:35 AM   #4
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Re: Kerry health insurance plan questions

Quote:
But what's interesting is that he then says he will protect workers "between jobs" with a 75% tax CREDIT (not deduction) for health insurance costs! Now that is some real money, and the question is how long could I qualify for that status after I "quit"? (Common sense tells me this falls into the "too good to be true" category.)
Sounds like he wants to make COBRA a tax credit.
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Re: Kerry health insurance plan questions
Old 10-10-2004, 09:29 AM   #5
 
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Re: Kerry health insurance plan questions

It seems like a reasonable possibility that it could be COBRA-related. That would make it a good deal for some but a bad deal for people who can find better and cheaper coverage elsewhere.

I find myself wondering why the website doesn't provide the full details. With politicians generally, the part they don't tell you is the part they don't want you to know...
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Re: Kerry health insurance plan questions
Old 10-10-2004, 10:20 AM   #6
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Re: Kerry health insurance plan questions

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at worst just an accounting gimmick.
...or more accurately, an election year accounting gimmick. So you can put as much weight on it as you do any other promise that is made prior to Nov 2nd of this year. Anything said Nov. 3rd or later will probably be more accurate.

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Re: Kerry health insurance plan questions
Old 10-10-2004, 11:06 AM   #7
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Re: Kerry health insurance plan questions

The facts are we've had presidents as far back as I can remember saying we need to fix this health care problem and nobody has fixed it, both republican and democrat alike. I don't see who wins if health care costs keep going up.

The facts are that my health insurance just went up 10% and it has been going up for me about 10% each year for the past 7 years.

The insurance company that just sent me a notice of increase didn't say why they are increasing the premium. When I called them, the operator just said, "The new premium is a reflection of increased operating costs and increased benefit payments."

I don't know what needs to be done to fix healthcare, but I know something needs to be done fast. I would think that if health care premiums keep going up 10%, at some point less and less people will be able to afford keeping any health insurance and that's a recipe for disaster.

I don't think any tax credits are going to help the situation. A tax credit just means some of my tax money is going to pay for somebody else's problem. What needs to be done is to find the root cause of what is driving healthcare costs so high and find a way to fix that problem.
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Re: Kerry health insurance plan questions
Old 10-10-2004, 11:45 AM   #8
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Re: Kerry health insurance plan questions

Nothing will be effective until a voting majority doesnt have health care or inexpensive enough health care and mandates that candidates have to resolve the problem in order to remain in office.

Or politicians find some way to make money or manage power by solving it.

I havent seen too many politico's that do anything unless one or both of these conditions is true.

This (cropped) analysis from the washington post:

On health care, Bush continued the specious accusation that Kerry is proposing a "government takeover" of the U.S. health system, saying Kerry's position is: "Let me incent you to go on the government." Kerry's plan builds on both private sector and government programs. Kerry does propose broad expansions of Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance Program. A report by the Commonwealth Fund, a private social research institute, estimated that under Kerry's proposal an additional 18 million to 21 million people would be covered. Like Kerry, Bush has been a supporter of SCHIP and said he intends to start an "aggressive" outreach effort to sign up a few million more children.

The president suggested he is on the verge of supporting the legal importation of lower-cost prescription drugs from countries such as Canada, which would be a major reversal. Despite overwhelming support in the House and Senate, the White House has blocked legislation opening the borders to the reimportation of U.S.-made pharmaceuticals.

Bush was correct in noting that during the Clinton administration, Health and Human Services Secretary Donna E. Shalala concluded that she could not guarantee a safe system for drug imports. In a tense back-and-forth over Medicare, Bush took credit for achieving much more in his four years in Washington than Kerry has done in his 20 years in the Senate.

"Show me one thing on Medicare he accomplished," Bush said. Kerry responded that he was "involved in" 1997 legislation that extended the solvency of the program, adding: "We balanced the budget and paid down the debt of the nation." In fact, his role was limited to voting for the Balanced Budget Amendment that was designed to keep Medicare afloat through 2030.

On the hot-button subject of medical malpractice, both men skipped over details that did not suit their cases. As he often does, Bush suggested that limiting non-economic damages would sharply reduce health care costs for most Americans. Analysis by the Congressional Budget Office found that legislation capping damage awards to $250,000 would lower physician malpractice premiums by 25 percent to 30 percent. But that reduction "would lower health care costs by only about .4 percent to .5 percent, and the likely effect on health insurance premiums would be comparably small," the CBO said.

Kerry glossed over his opposition to that bill, saying only: "I think we should look at the punitive [damages] and we should have some limitations."

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Re: Kerry health insurance plan questions
Old 10-10-2004, 12:32 PM   #9
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Re: Kerry health insurance plan questions

One thing I would like to see is a COBRA law passed allowing for employees to stay on their company plans for a longer period after they leave their job.

I do not believe it costs the company anything and even though the premiums will still be high for the retiree it is a bargain compared to what the insurance company will offer you for a comparable individual plan.(if you can get one).
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Re: Kerry health insurance plan questions
Old 10-10-2004, 12:37 PM   #10
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Re: Kerry health insurance plan questions

Quote:
The facts are that my health insurance just went up 10% and it has been going up for me about 10% each year for the past 7 years.
With the help of my crystal ball, in my ER spreadsheet, I have assigned a 10% inflation rate for health insurance (until medicare kicks in) and additional medical costs and 9% for dental expense. Health related expense will account for almost 20% of my gross expense when I ER in 2005.
Since FIREcalc doesn't let you identify estimated medical cost, does anyone know how it handles the increasing inflation of these costs.
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Re: Kerry health insurance plan questions
Old 10-10-2004, 01:36 PM   #11
 
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Re: Kerry health insurance plan questions

Quote:
Since FIREcalc doesn't let you identify estimated medical cost, does anyone know how it handles the increasing inflation of these costs. mj
Here's what I did. It seems like it makes sense anyway.

I assumed my insurance would need to last 20 yrs

I used $6000 as cost of policy today.

How much of a stash would I need for 6000 clams to last 20 yrs during the worst period of inflation at a 50-50 stock/bond split. I think that came out to 1966-1986

The final number, if I recall correctly, was 125,000 bucks

Then I just doubled it. Even THAT could ultimately be a little on the light side.

You can either keep a separate "medical insurance fund" to manage separately from your "Living and Bills Paying" FIRE fund. OR you can roll it all together, average it out, and reduce your safe-withdrawl-rate accordingly, since you're incorporating that medical insurance inflation into the "normal" CPI number
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Re: Kerry health insurance plan questions
Old 10-10-2004, 02:15 PM   #12
 
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Re: Kerry health insurance plan questions

This is all very interesting and worthwhile discussion, but doesn't anyone have any specifics on exactly what Kerry's plan means for a typical retiree who needs health insurance? I realize it doesn't solve the problems with the overall system and perhaps could actually make them worse. I tend to assume that it's just another boondoggle like the Medicare prescription drug benefit. And of course I realize that someone will eventually have to pay for it. But if it happens, the benefits will go to someone. I just want to know whether or not I might be that someone...
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Re: Kerry health insurance plan questions
Old 10-10-2004, 03:01 PM   #13
 
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Re: Kerry health insurance plan questions

Basing your insurance planning on what any politician
says (especially in an election year) is the height of folly.
I opine that you can safely ignore whatever they tell you, specific or otherwise. Liars, damn liars and
politicians, in that order.

John Galt
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Re: Kerry health insurance plan questions
Old 10-10-2004, 04:18 PM   #14
 
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Re: Kerry health insurance plan questions

John, I'm not sure what you mean - as I stated before I'm not basing anything on this except possibly my vote. If Kerry was promising me a tax cut I would take it with a grain of salt, but this kind of giveaway is mainstream fodder for his party - I see no reason to think he wouldn't pursue it. It's a non-starter anyway if Republicans retain either side of Congress.

Anyway, I think there's a high probability that the next presidential term will be spent mostly just reacting to uncontrollable events. The martini I had tonight inspires me to Haiku:

Iran, Korea, deficits
All your plans - a footnote
Written in sand

Is that 18 syllables?
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Re: Kerry health insurance plan questions
Old 10-10-2004, 04:42 PM   #15
 
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Re: Kerry health insurance plan questions

What I mean is.............watch out for yourselves.
Hoping/planning/wishing that the government will take care of you is foolish. Politicians lie and pander.
Ignore them as much as possible. Obviously, you must
deal with their actions, but rely on your own abilities
and decisions.

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Re: Kerry health insurance plan questions
Old 10-10-2004, 05:04 PM   #16
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Re: Kerry health insurance plan questions

Kerry's plan, which no one can find much less understand he says will be funded by "rolling back" Bush's tax credit. Then using those funds in a TEN YEAR plan to fund health care benefits.

The thing is that no ten year partisan plan has a chance with a four year presidential term - especially when a different party gets elected to the white house every four years.

Dont get too wrapped up in all the candidate's "plans" and promises. The more these plans are studied, the sillier they appear. Its all about getting elected

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Re: Kerry health insurance plan questions
Old 10-10-2004, 05:17 PM   #17
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Re: Kerry health insurance plan questions

It is really quite simple. Most people under the Kerry plan will pay for their own health insurance. Kerry proposes that everyone have access to a pool. The pool will have choices of plans. Since he refers to the federal government as a model, I suggest that you go to:
http://apps.opm.gov/rates/non_postal.cfm, chose your state and pull up the premiums for 2005. Be sure to consider the premium as the government and the employee share added together. How premiums are shared for you depends on your own employer. If you are voluntarily early-retired, I assume you would pay the entire amount yourself. Additionally, Kerry proposed that catastrophic cost be covered by the federal government. He also says that all children that are uninsured will be covered. I cannot tell what effect the removal of catastrophic coverage from private insurance will have on the premiums but it should hold increases down since the national average age is on the increase.

The major affect of Kerry's proposal would be to make insurance benefits affordable to more employer/employee benefit plans. But the plan is not a one payer, it is a you pay and we will help make it more affordable system (for most people). Federal employees have been told that the federal pool itself will remain as a federal only pool so it serves as a model. I would emphasize again that it looks to me like this is a plan geared at making the health insurance more affordable and not one that shifts the burden to the federal government (except catastrophic, children and Medicare/Medicade).
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Re: Kerry health insurance plan questions
Old 10-10-2004, 05:59 PM   #18
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Re: Kerry health insurance plan questions

Based on those tables, I would be paying 4 times what I am currently paying per month.

No thanks,
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Re: Kerry health insurance plan questions
Old 10-11-2004, 05:34 AM   #19
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Re: Kerry health insurance plan questions

Quote:
It is really quite simple. Most people under the Kerry plan will pay for their own health insurance. Kerry proposes that everyone have access to a pool. The pool will have choices of plans. Since he refers to the federal government as a model, I suggest that you go to:
http://apps.opm.gov/rates/non_postal.cfm, chose your state and pull up the premiums for 2005. Be sure to consider the premium as the government and the employee share added together. How premiums are shared for you depends on your own employer. If you are voluntarily early-retired, I assume you would pay the entire amount yourself.
Every one of those family plans is more expensive than what I will be paying in 2005 for my current family plan. So if this is Kerry's "fix" I will vote for Bush on this issue.
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Re: Kerry health insurance plan questions
Old 10-11-2004, 09:12 AM   #20
 
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Re: Kerry health insurance plan questions

Thanks for all the feedback - there doesn't seem to be enough hard info out there to make an intelligent judgement. I mailed my ballot this morning so I'll withdraw the question...
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