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Health Reform: Is Tax On 'Cadillac' Plans Fair?

CARLA K. JOHNSON

Schoolteacher Kinzi Blair makes only $46,000 a year, but she has what many would consider a "Cadillac" health plan, now targeted for a big tax increase by health reformers.

She has $10 copays and no deductible. She gets generic prescription drugs for $10. Her plan covers mental health counseling, organ transplants, acupuncture. It covers speech therapy for preschoolers and in vitro fertilization.

Sound pretty good?

It surely must to millions of Americans who pay high deductibles, hundreds of dollars for prescription drugs or who have no insurance at all. Blair's circumstance illustrates the debate over taxes and fairness when it comes to health reform.

"For me, it's security," Blair says. "I'm thankful I'm in a job where there is health insurance."

Taxing plans like hers is unfair, says Blair, a kindergarten teacher in San Jose, Calif. Like 57 percent of Americans surveyed in a recent Associated Press poll, she favors a new income tax on wealthy Americans, which the House would impose in its bill to pay for expanding insurance coverage to millions.

But the Senate takes a different approach, including an unprecedented tax on the health insurance of people like Blair. The Senate plan would also increase the Medicare payroll tax for high-income Americans and tax elective cosmetic surgery.

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