Monday, March 22, 2010

What Health Care Reform Means to You

Over the coming hours, days, weeks, and months there will no doubt be a great deal of discussion about the heath care reform legislation that was passed the the U.S. House of Representatives late last night. Here are the important points: (source)

If You Are Uninsured:
  • This shouldn't affect those of us here in Massachusetts as by law, we are all already required to have health insurance. 
  • Starting in 2014, those without insurance will face a penalty of $95 or 1 percent of income, whichever is greater. That penalty will rise over time, reaching $695 or 2 percent of income, whichever is greater. If you earn less that the income-tax filing threshold, you will not owe anything. If you cannot purchase a policy that is less than 8 percent of your income, you also will not owe anything. 
  • More lower-income individuals under the age of 65 will be covered by Medicaid. A family of four that makes under $29, 327 would be covered.
  • There will be state-run insurance exchanges. If your income is more than 133 percent of the poverty level but less than 400 percent (e.g., $29, 32 to $88,200 for a family of four) you will be eligible for health insurance subsidies through this program.
  • Your premium for thee exchanges would be capped at a percentage of your income ranging from 3 percent to as much as 9.5 percent.
  • If you lose lose your job, quit your job, or decide to start your own business you will be able to move between employer-related insurance to insurance from the exchange.
Those with Insurance:
  • Your coverage is unlikely to change, though there will be benefits for you.
  • No one will be able to be denied coverage based on pre-existing conditions on all policies after 2014.
  • If you have Medicare, the "donut hole" will be eliminated by 2020. Starting immediately, those who hit the "donut hole" will get a $250 rebate. Starting in 2011, they will receive a 50% discount on brand named drugs.
  • Dependent children can be covered by their parent's insurance until they reach 26 years old, regardless of their school status.
  • Insurance plans that have total premiums of more than $10,200 for singles and $27,500 for families would be subject to a 40 percent tax on the excess premium. The taxes would be levied on the insurer, though that price is likely to be passed on to the consumer.

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