Health care law surprise: $63 per-person fee for three years

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WASHINGTONMedical plans are facing an unexpected new fee. It's to help cover people with pre-existing conditions under President Obama's health care overhaul.

The $63-per-head fee -- buried in a recent regulation -- will hit health plans serving an estimated 190 million Americans, mostly workers and their families. It's payable starting in 2014.

Employers are not happy. The cost of compliance works out to tens of millions of dollars for the largest companies, maybe a few hundred for small firms. Most of that will get passed on to workers.

The Obama administration says the money will cushion health insurance companies from the hard-to-predict costs of covering uninsured people with pre-existing conditions, so society will benefit in the long run.

The fee is temporary, raising $25 billion over three years.

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