U.S. citizens soon will be participating in a four-part, nearly universal, health care system. Medicare, Medicaid, employer-provided health, and the new exchange insurance policies all come with different government subsidies. Medicare is tied to age or disability and provides roughly the same amount of insurance to all recipients. Medicaid (and a related children's health insurance program) also provides more or less equal coverage to all who get it, though it pays providers less for that coverage and, cliff-like, often cuts off beneficiaries who cross an earnings line. Subsidies for employer-provided health insurance are largest for those with the highest incomes and the most expensive policies. Meanwhile, the new exchanges created under health care reform would phase out subsidies for households as their income increased.
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