Benefits - and costs - of the new health care bill

Dr. Micheline Dole, 58, is a pediatrician at

Dr. Micheline Dole, 58, is a pediatrician at Nassau University Medical Center. (March 29, 2010) Photo Credit: Newsday File / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

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Americans won't have to wait long before beginning to see the changes embedded in the sweeping health care overhaul passed by the House Sunday, and they'll find the new policies include both benefits and costs.

The complex $940 billion restructuring of the nation's fast-growing health care system will unfold over the next five years, with provisions, taxes and fees gradually phased in and most starting in 2014.

The ambitious plan will create the biggest expansion of health coverage since Medicare in 1965, but that will come at a cost primarily to higher-wage earners, insurers, employers and the medical industry.

Here is a snapshot of the benefits and costs.



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Health coverage will be extended to nearly all Americans, but nearly everyone also must obtain health insurance or face a fine. About 32 million uninsured people either will get federal subsidies to buy insurance or qualify for Medicaid coverage for low-income families, increasing the proportion of Americans covered from 83 percent to 95 percent.



Individuals earning less than $14,404 and families of four making less than $29,326 would be eligible for expanded Medicaid coverage. That benefit does not kick in until 2014.

Health care reform

People will be able to buy insurance in new marketplaces called exchanges in 2014. Federal subsidies will be available on a sliding scale for individuals earning between $14,404 and $43,320, and families making between $29,326 and $88,200.


Beginning in 2014, people will have to get insurance or pay fines start at $95 and rise by 2016 to $695, or up to 2.5 percent of income.



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Those on Medicare will see new benefits, such as free checkups, but they'll also see changes in the way the federal program is operated. The overhaul seeks to trim escalating Medicare costs by squeezing out fraud and waste, limiting provider pay and shifting away from paying for each procedure rather than overall treatment. Critics warn cuts in Medicare costs could lead to cuts in care.