Fri, December 25, 2009
World > Americas > U.S. health care reform

Backgrounder: U.S. healthcare reform glossary

2009-12-24 16:26:00 GMT2009-12-25 00:26:00 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

WASHINGTON, Dec. 24 (Xinhua) -- The U.S. Senate on Thursday approved a landmark healthcare reform bill. Following are key terms in the bill.

PUBLIC OPTION

It refers to a government-run insurance plan. In most proposals, the public option would be similar to the Medicare system, where the government would negotiate payment rates with health care providers.

INSURANCE EXCHANGES

They are supposed to bring down the cost of policies for the self insured and small businesses. The idea is that insurers will compete with each other in these new marketplaces for the millions of previously uninsured. State, regional, or national exchanges would be established.

MEDICAID

It is a state-federal health program for low-income people. Enacted in 1965 with the Social Security Act, Medicaid currently provides immediate and long-term care to about 60 million Americans.

MEDICARE

Also enacted in 1965 under the Social Security Act, it is a federal program that provides health insurance to people aged 65 and older and the disabled. In 2008, Medicare covered almost 45 million people.

FEDERAL POVERTY LEVEL

It is calculated by the federal government, and the numbers are used to determine the income standard for eligibility for public healthcare programs. For 2009, individuals making 10,830 U.S. dollars per year or less or families of four making 22,050 dollars per year or less are eligible for federal subsidies.

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