Folks in Virginia Beach got to hear a great summary of health care reform last week. Joanne Grossi spoke to a crowd of well over 100 people to explain the reforms. She gave a simple overview of the law in about 20 minutes, but was still able to give new information to “experts” who thought they knew it all. A video of her presentation is available in four parts at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S-oS7ap4WOE&list=UUFvPoUKLH4vLDBXEixZM0dg&index=2. The small business portion is below for your convenience.
In addition to the help that anyone under 400 percent of the poverty line will get to buy health insurance, there is also a provision of health care reform that also helps folks under 250 percent of the poverty line with co-pays and other out-of-pocket expenses.
In the “a rose by any other name” category, the federal government is now calling the Health Benefit Exchange the Health Insurance Marketplace. It will work exactly the same. In addition, the small business side of this is now being called the Small business Health Options Program or SHOP. All of the provisions about group buying power, easy access, comparison shopping and openness are the same, but the name has changed.
While most people will access the Health Insurance Marketplace (HBE or SHOP) through the internet, it will also be accessible through a 24 hour 1-800 number, some physical locations, and they will take applications by mail. So it should be easy for anyone to take advantage of this new way to buy health insurance.
Healthcare.gov is a great source of information on health care reform. It has a tool for helping you to look for health insurance. It has information on health insurance rate increases. It has information on the tax credit for small businesses. It has information on the new Health Insurance Marketplaces. And it has an easy to understand timeline to help explain when all this help is coming.
After years of double-digit increases, health care spending has been remarkably reasonable for the last few years. A recent Kaiser Family Fund report found that health care spending grew by less than 4 percent in 2009, 2010 and 2011, the lowest rate of growth since 1960. While the weak economy has helped slow spending, we have had several bad recessions since 1960 that have not lowered spending as much.
One of the parts of health care reform requires health insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent of the money they collect in premiums on actual health care or rebate money to their customers. Last year, customers got $1.2 billion in rebates nationwide.
The federal government has given Virginia more than $20 million to help implement health care reform. While most of it has been to establish more home visiting for pregnant mothers and young children, over $1 million was given to help train more Physicians Assistants and over $5 million was given to plan for the Health Insurance Marketplace (while Virginia spent the money they are not setting up the program, they are letting the feds do it).
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