Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Dawn of a New Day - 5 BIG wins in the Health Care reform Act

1. Health insurance companies will not be able to discriminate against you because you have a pre-existing condition.

The problem has been that millions of adults and children have been denied insurance specifically because they have a medical condition. The Kaiser Family Foundation says that 21 percent of people who apply for health insurance on their own get turned down, or charged a higher price or offered a plan that does not cover their pre-existing condition. This will stop!

2. Young adults will be able to keep their parents' insurance until age 26.

The health care reform legislation requires insurance companies to allow dependent children to stay on their parents' insurance policies until age 26. The children can't have jobs that offer insurance, and they must be claimed as dependents on their parents' taxes.

Currently dependents get booted off Mom and Dad's health insurance much earlier than this, depending on the state they live in, sometimes as early as age 19. This will stop!

3. You will be eligible for a subsidy to buy insurance if you make less than $88,000 per year for a family of four.

Starting in 2014, the health care reform bill provides subsidies for people who don't get insurance from their employers and therefore have to buy it on their own. The amount of the subsidy will computed based on your income, whether you're single or have a family, your age, and where you live. For example:

• A 40-year old making $30,000 a year in a medium-cost area of the country will get an $850 subsidy toward buying a policy, which should cost about $3,500, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation subsidy calculator.

• A 40-year-old in the same city who has a family of four and is making $60,000 will get a $4,220 subsidy toward a policy that costs $9,435.

You can estimate your own subsidy by using this Kaiser subsidy calculator.

4. If your employer does not offer insurance, that might change!

Starting in 2014, if your company employs more than 50 people, it will be required to offer you a health plan that covers at least 60 percent of your overall health costs, or the company will be fined $750 per year per full-time worker. That fine could increase to $2,000 if the reconciliation act passes.

5. Health care reform has major benefits for senior citizens!

The AARP reports that health care legislation does important things for seniors:

  • It gives people on Medicare new access to free preventive services such as screenings for cancer and diabetes.
  • It will decrease and then, by 2020 it will close the "doughnut hole," Part-D drug payment gap where Medicare stops paying once a senior has spent more than $2,830 on prescription drugs and resumes when the individual's out-of-pocket spending has reached about $4,550.
  • Spending for Medicare beneficiaries is budgeted to increase 2 percent each year.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Surprise! People favor passage of health reform

A telephone survey of 1,005 adults was conducted by the Gallup organization on March 22, the day after Congress enacted health reform legislation. The margin error is 4 percentage points. The results show that "More Americans call Congress' passage of a healthcare reform bill "a good thing" (49%) than call it "a bad thing" (40%). Reaction is predictably partisan, with independents evenly divided.

In my opinion, when folks really get to understand how this bill will interrupt our endless cycle of cost increase and non coverage, that support will continue to increase!

Gallup concludes, "Passage of healthcare reform was a clear political victory for President Obama and his allies in Congress. While it also pleases most of his Democratic base nationwide, it is met with greater ambivalence among independents and with considerable antipathy among Republicans. Whether these groups' views on the issue harden or soften in the coming months could be crucial to how healthcare reform factors into this year's midterm elections. Given that initial public reaction to Sunday's vote is more positive than recent public opinion about passing a healthcare reform bill, it appears some softening has already occurred."

Sunday, March 21, 2010

On the first day that health reform becomes law

The United States House of Representatives is poised to take an historic vote today on whether or not to implement health care reform. You will often hear opponents say that the bill does "not take effect" until 2014, but actually, there are many improvements that will occur right away. This is a good time to reflect on what this vote could mean for all of us.

On the first day that health reform becomes law:

· Annual caps on coverage will be eliminated
· Rescisions - the practice of dumping people even if they have paid their premiums – will be eliminated
· Pre-existing conditions for children will be eliminated, followed later by the elimination of all pre-existing conditions
· Parents will be allowed to have their children on their health insurance policy until age 26
· The "Donut Hole" Medicare Part D drug coverage gap will be decreased with a $250 rebate

In short, in addition to expanding coverage, reducing the deficit and helping to decrease costs, there is a lot other immediate benefits to like in this new bill. We need to encourage our representatives not to blink, and to take this momentous step for all of our citizens.