Health Care Reform Legislation

Late on March 21, 2010, the House of Representatives passed the bill overhauling the Nation’s Health Care System, and then passed the package of fixes to that bill, which the Senate must now approve.

Some of the ‘immediate’ changes include:

  • A dependent child could stay on their parent’s health insurance policy until age of 26.
  • A child cannot be discriminated against, and an insurer cannot refuse to cover a child age 19 or younger because of a pre-existing condition.

Seniors who fall into ‘the donut hole’ of their Medicare Part D plan will get $250 this year.  And, ‘the donut hole’ will be phased out over the next ten years.

  • There is a high risk pool.  That is for people now that do not have health insurance and  have a problem getting it; there will be a high risk pool set up to help them get coverage.
  • There are also going to be tax credits for some small business.  Businesses that have 25 or fewer employees, with average wages of about $50,000 or less, will get some immediate help.

And then there are longer-range parts of the plan, most of which will kick in at about 2014.

  • Health insurance exchanges (marketplaces to help consumers find affordable coverage).
  • Subsidies that will be given to people to help them pay for coverage.
  • Expansion of Medicaid.

The intent is to insure an additional 32 million people who currently have no health coverage.  Some of those who have faced access issues (not able to get coverage because of a pre-existing medical condition) will hopefully be able to get coverage through the introduction of a high-risk pool.   Others whose challenges have been the inability to afford private health insurance may – beginning in 2014 – find themselves eligible for a subsidy or access to the Medicaid program.

There remains considerable uncertainty about the details.  Congress has promised to raise taxes in certain areas and cut spending in others, but we’ll have to wait and see what actually happens.  For example, an excise tax on ‘Cadillac’ health plans is not set to take effect until 2018.  Click here for a timeline.

Lots will happen between now and then.  In the meantime, because health care reform affects all of us, Hickman & Lowder will continue to monitor developments and share them via this website.

Read a summary of the health care reform bill.

– Posted by Carol Culley

Posted in Blog, Wellness.