Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Defining a "cadillac" healthcare plan

Okay, so I found several articles that seem to explain what the government calls a "cadillac" employer-paid healthcare plan:

Healthcare reform

Health-Care Changes to Start Taking Effect This Year (Correct) - reported on by Shannon Pettypiece and Alex Nussbaum. My thoughts? I need to get to the tanning salon ASAP since a new 10% tax kicks in starting July. But on a serious note, I still want to know what defines a "cadillac insurance plan." I want to know because all families with employer-paid insurance will face a hefty tax in 2018 (if not earlier). As soon as I find the details, I'll post it here. However, based on previous experience with government determinations in addition to my background as a benefits specialist for employers, "cadillac" will most likely include most employer-paid plans. As the saying goes, expect the worst so you won't be disappointed. Oh well, getting a tax-free tan in time for May graduation will cheer me up.

Friday, August 07, 2009

How healthcare reform will impact YOU

If you're wondering about the details embedded in the proposed healthcare act--carefully labeled by Congress as "H.R.3200: America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009"--here's a sneak peek:
  • Page 22: Mandates audits of all employers that self-insure.
  • Page 29: Admission: your health care will be rationed.
  • Page 30: A government committee will decide what treatments and benefits you get (and, unlike an insurer, there will be no appeals process).
  • Page 42: The "Health Choices Commissioner" will decide health benefits for you. You will have no choice. None.
  • Page 50: All non-US citizens, illegal or not, will be provided with free healthcare services.
  • Page 58: Every person will be issued a National ID Healthcard.
  • Page 59: The federal government will have direct, real-time access to all individual bank accounts for electronic funds transfer.
  • Page 65: Taxpayers will subsidize all union retiree and community organizer health plans (read: SEIU, UAW and ACORN).
  • Page 72: All private healthcare plans must conform to government rules to participate in a Healthcare Exchange.
  • Page 84: All private healthcare plans must participate in the Healthcare Exchange (i.e., total government control of private plans).
  • Page 91: Government mandates linguistic infrastructure for services; translation: illegal aliens.
  • Page 95: The Government will pay ACORN and Americorps to sign up individuals for Government-run Health Care plan.
  • Page 102: Those eligible for Medicaid will be automatically enrolled: you have no choice in the matter.
  • Page 124: No company can sue the government for price-fixing. No "judicial review" is permitted against the government monopoly. Put simply, private insurers will be crushed.
  • Page 127: The AMA sold doctors out: the government will set wages.
  • Page 145: An employer MUST auto-enroll employees into the government-run public plan. No alternatives.
  • Page 126: Employers MUST pay healthcare bills for part-time employees AND their families.
  • Page 149: Any employer with a payroll of $400K or more, who does not offer the public option, pays an 8% tax on payroll.
  • Page 150: Any employer with a payroll of $250K-400K or more, who does not offer the public option, pays a 2 to 6% tax on payroll.
  • Page 167: Any individual without acceptable healthcare (according to the government) will be taxed 2.5% of income.
  • Page 170: Any NON-RESIDENT alien is exempt from individual taxes (U.S. citizens will pay for them).
  • Page 195: Officers and employees of Government Healthcare Bureaucracy will have access to ALL American financial and personal records.
  • Page 203: "The tax imposed under this section shall not be treated as tax." Yes, it really says that.
  • Page 239: Bill will reduce physician services for Medicaid. Seniors and the poor most affected."
  • Page 241: Doctors: no matter what speciality you have, you'll all be paid the same (thanks, AMA!).
  • Page 253: Government sets value of doctors' time, their professional judgment, etc.
  • Page 265: Government mandates and controls productivity for private healthcare industries.
  • Page 268: Government regulates rental and purchase of power-driven wheelchairs.
  • Page 272: Cancer patients: welcome to the wonderful world of rationing!
  • Page 280: Hospitals will be penalized for what the government deems preventable re-admissions.
  • Page 298: Doctors: if you treat a patient during an initial admission that results in a readmission, you will be penalized by the government.
  • Page 317: Doctors: you are now prohibited from owning and investing in healthcare companies.
  • Page 318: Prohibition on hospital expansion. Hospitals cannot expand without government approval.
  • Page 321: Hospital expansion hinges on "community" input: in other words, yet another payoff for ACORN.
  • Page 335: Government mandates establishment of outcome-based measures: i.e., rationing.
  • Page 341: Government has authority to disqualify Medicare Advantage Plans, HMOs, etc.
  • Page 354: Government will restrict enrollment of SPECIAL NEEDS individuals.
  • Page 379: More bureaucracy: Telehealth Advisory Committee (healthcare by phone).
  • Page 425: More bureaucracy: Advance Care Planning Consult: Senior Citizens, assisted suicide, euthanasia?
  • Page 425: Government will instruct and consult regarding living wills, durable powers of attorney, etc. Mandatory. Appears to lock in estate taxes ahead of time.
  • Page 425: Goverment provides approved list of end-of-life resources, guiding you in death.
  • Page 427: Government mandates program that orders end-of-life treatment; government dictates how your life ends.
  • Page 429: Advance Care Planning Consult will be used to dictate treatment as patient's health deteriorates. This can include an ORDER for end-of-life plans. An ORDER from the GOVERNMENT.
  • Page 430: Government will decide what level of treatments you may have at end-of-life.
  • Page 469: Community-based Home Medical Services: more payoffs for ACORN.
  • Page 472: Payments to Community-based organizations: more payoffs for ACORN.
  • Page 489: Government will cover marriage and family therapy. Government intervenes in your marriage.
  • Page 494: Government will cover mental health services: defining, creating and rationing those services.

Full text (warning: long download):
Full text also online at The Library of Congress “Thomas” site (sections allow for faster, easier viewing).

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Worried about privacy? You should be.

What a busy day! I reported live on a teleconference that impacts all of us--please read my new post on government regulations requiring employers to collect and report employee and dependent personal information to a federal agency: "My News Muse" here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Debt, debt, debt

From twitter fans, I learned about this incredibly informative blog entry by James Quinn, "The Great Consumer Crash of 2009." It's long but definitely worth a read. Scroll down to check out the graphs he included that provide valuable visuals that reveal what's happening.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Need help with DTV conversion?

My DTV coupon cards may have expired, but that won't stop the transition from coming. So here are some tips I came across that you may find helpful as well:

DTV expired coupons?

Did you order your DTV converter box coupon cards early (like me), but they expired (like mine)?
"According to NTIA statistics posted on December 31st the redemption rate of coupons is at 52.5%. DTV Coupons expire after 90 days, based on this 47.5% of all coupons mailed will have their value returned to the funding pool. If you have requested coupons you will be put in queue to receive your coupons when funding has been returned." ("DTV Coupon Availability Limited")

I thought I was being oh-so-efficient by ordering my family's DTV coupon card ahead of the rush last year. Only when they arrived did I discover they did not expire on the well-publicized transition date of 2/17/09--but in NINETY DAYs (July 23, 2008).

Two problems: 1) Stores did not carry converter boxes in my area until Christmas. 2) But worse, and completely unexpected, our area suffered catastrophic devastation during the June flooding of 2008. My home was fine but the historic flood wiped out over 9 square miles of downtown Cedar Rapids, displacing over 26,000 residents and businesses. Our area was absolutely devastated and buying a TV converter box was by far the last thing on our minds. President Bush declared Iowa a disaster area. Seven months later, Dave DeWitte of The Gazette reports that nearly half of the businesses in Cedar Rapids have not come back and are unaccounted for.

After the flood, I spent the next 6 weeks volunteering during the massive recovery efforts. By the time I remembered our DTV coupon cards in August, they were expired. (Not that there were any converter boxes in our area anyway!) I sent an appeal through the DTV website in September but got not response, so I sent a second appeal today–-not that I expect any response now.

As for an expiration date, why didn’t the FCC set these coupon cards to expire on Feb. 17, 2009, the advertised date of transition? Why the 90 days? For those of us who ordered early, there were NO boxes available, no reviews, etc. I see NO reason at all for expiring them after 90 days. Not with a built-in advertised, well-publisized drop-dead date of Feb. 17, 2009.

And for those of us in disaster areas during 2008 and 2009 (Washington state suffered massive flooding this month, just like Iowa) should be given extra time.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Tax evasion "innocent mistake"? I think not!

A "no-duh" revelation: "Not paying your taxes is a growing problem in the public's eyes if you're the guy tapped to oversee the IRS." President-elect Obama calls it "an innocent mistake."

However, according to a report by the Senate committee, Timothy Geithner had experience filing as a self-employed worker, handling taxes for a consulting business and for his wife's business. Furthermore, the IRS contacted Geithner in 2006 about his unpaid taxes, some of which he paid and some he ignored--until November 2008 when Obama prepared to nominate him for Secretary of the Treasury. Read the full story here.

UPDATE - the Associate Press removed the story from the link above, so try this one from

Friday, January 02, 2009

Mortgage rates lowest in 37 years

30-year mortgage rate falls for the ninth week in a row...
"The 30-year fixed-rate mortgage averaged 5.10% for the week ending Dec. 31, down from 5.14% last week and 6.07% a year ago. The mortgage rate hasn't been lower since Freddie Mac started the Primary Mortgage Market Survey in 1971."

Time to refinance? Perhaps. If you save more than 2 points or 2 percent of your mortgage loan, it's worth it. For instance, on a $150,000 mortgage, 2 points is $3,000 ($150,000 x 2% = $3,000). If your reduced monthly payment adds up to $3,000 over the next three years, it's definitely worth it.
Read more here