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High premiums in Senate Democrats' health plan

New York Times, December 11, 2009

Senate Democrats have provided few details about their latest healthcare proposal, but this much seems clear: Anyone who wants to buy the same health benefits as members of Congress, or to buy coverage through Medicare, should be prepared to fork over a large chunk of cash. According to the Congressional Budget Office, a family of four earning $54,000 in 2016, when the health legislation is fully in effect, would be eligible for a subsidy of $10,100 to help defray the cost of insurance under the health legislation being debated by the Senate. By then, one of the most popular federal plans, a nationwide Blue Cross and Blue Shield policy, is projected to cost more than $20,000. That could leave the family earning $54,000, slightly more than the current median household income, with monthly premium costs of more than $825. The Democrats' proposal would also allow some people ages 55 to 64 to "buy in" to Medicare, starting in 2011. That could cost about $7,600 a year per person or $15,200 for a couple, according to a budget office analysis of an earlier version of the concept. No subsidies would be available until 2014.