Health Summit Cheat Sheet
A glossary of health reform words, phrases, and slogans.
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Health cooperatives. The Obama plan's and the Senate's lame nonprofit substitute for the "public option" government health insurance program included in the House bill. Obamacare would appropriate $6 billion to help create them. Probably not worth the trouble.
Health Insurance Rate Authority. A new body that President Obama proposes creating within the Health and Human Services Department to block excessive private health insurance rate hikes.
High-risk pools. You take a whole bunch of people who can't get health insurance elsewhere, because they're too unhealthy, and you get them to share the risk, with the government chipping in, too. The health reform bill proposes this as a stopgap until the exchanges are operational. Republicans propose this as the whole solution. Unsurprisingly, high-risk pools have astronomical premiums. (See "Adverse selection.")
"If you like your coverage, you can keep it." Obama's campaign promise, and a key distorting imperative in health care reform. As Obama himself has pointed out, you can't keep it if your boss takes it away, as bosses are increasingly doing because of out-of-control costs.
Ignani, Karen. President of America's Health Insurance Plans, the health insurers' lobby. The Obama administration is scapegoating health insurers partly because they're the one major health insurance industry that actively opposes the health care reform bill.
Independent Payment Advisory Board. A panel created in the Senate bill and the Obama proposal to find cuts in Medicare.
Individual market (see also "Nongroup market"). Health insurance that isn't obtained through an employer or other group. This is where the worst abuses are, and it's the focus of most health reform provisions.
Individual mandate. A provision in all the Democratic health reform bills requiring everyone to have health insurance or pay a tax penalty. Under the Obama proposal, if you don't have it you pay $695 per year (up to a maximum of $2,085) or 2.5 percent of your household income—whichever is greater.
Individual responsibility (aka, wellness program). The various versions of the health reform bill offer financial incentives to employers to discount health insurance for people with healthy habits. Gun owners lobbied successfully to insert language stating that not owning a gun cannot be deemed a healthy habit.
Timothy Noah is a former Slate staffer. His book about income inequality is The Great Divergence.
Photograph of President Obama by Mark Wilson/Getty Images.