Dec. 21, 2009— -- Health care legislation passed a big hurdle today in the Senate, with an early morning vote to block a Republican filibuster that passed 60 to 40. A final vote is scheduled for Christmas Eve. The bill would extend insurance coverage to more than 30 million Americans, but Senators may have to make compromises to their version, which is markedly different from the one that was already passed by theHouse.
Bottom line: how is this bill going to affect you and your family? ABC News has compiled a list of frequently asked questions.
If I already have health insurance, can I keep it as is?
The short answer is: yes. There's nothing in the Senate or House bills that would cause you to lose the insurance you have right now.
Can I keep my doctors?
Again, yes. The bills do not change the status quo.
If I change or lose my job, can I keep the same insurance?
No... But the government would set up a new "insurance exchange" that you can buy into. Low and middle income people would get subsidies to buy this insurance. And you wouldn't be excluded from these exchanges if you have a pre-existing condition.
If I'm on Medicare, will there be cuts to my benefits?
No - your benefits will not be cut. In fact, the bill would improve your prescription drug coverage.
Will taxes go up?
In some cases, yes. Some higher-wage people would pay higher payroll taxes.
Also, insurance companies that offer the most expensive plans -- the so-called "Cadillac plans" -- will be taxed. And they may pass those taxes on to employers and employees...or cut the benefits.
Finally, health industries - like device makers and hospitals - would pay higher taxes, too... And they may pass those costs onto you.
If I'm uninsured now, how soon do I get the help to buy health insurance?
There's a big lag time. Under the House bill: 2013. And, under the Senate bill, not until 2014.
When or if this bill kicks in, will coverage actually be affordable for me?
Experts say that's an open question. Even some people who get government subsidies may not find it affordable. And in some cases if you don't buy in, you may be penalized. The bottom line is this: for most Americans, the 160 million Americans who get insurance through employers right now, you will not see much of a change from this bill. If a person is unhappy with their plan and feel like they are paying too much out of pocket -- that is unlikely to change.