HOW HEALTH CARE REFORM CAN SAVE YOU MONEY, THE MANDATE:
When people without health insurance get sick, studies indicate that they pay about 1/3 of their bills, while the remaining 2/3 is picked up by the rest of us, some through government and private indigent care programs and some through higher health care and health insurance costs. A 2009 study found that every family with a health insurance plan pays about $1,000 a year extra to cover the uninsured.
The new health care law requires almost everyone to be covered by a health insurance plan. There are nine exemptions to this requirement, including a financial hardship exemption. People can be covered by health insurance through their employer, through a public plan like TriCare or Medicaid, or by buying an individual health insurance plan. People who are not covered face a financial penalty. This is the “individual mandate” everyone talks about.
This individual mandate should save much of the $1,000 per family that the insured pay to cover the uninsured. Plus, we all should save money on private and public indigent care programs. Finally, people with health insurance tend to be healthier and have overall lower health care costs. Indeed, many economists suggest that the total cost of health care will be lower if everyone has health insurance coverage and that health care reform is lowering the projected federal deficit.
People can begin signing up for health insurance on the new Health Insurance Marketplace as of October 1, 2013. The website is healthcare.gov and the phone number is 1-800-318-2596.
The Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission (MIRC) met on August 19. This is the body that will decide if Virginia is going to expand Medicaid to cover 400,000 more Virginians. It sounded like there is solid consensus that Medicaid expansion will cost the state very little money, cover lots of folks, and have a positive economic impact. However, several of the members still have questions about long-term funding and the ability of the federal government to meet its obligations under the law. The MIRC is also planning a public hearing on the issue sometime in September.
In addition to the assistance anyone under 400 percent of the poverty line will receive to buy health insurance, there is also a provision of health care reform that helps folks under 250 percent of the poverty line with co-pays and other out-of-pocket expenses.
Below is a helpful 45-minute video that explains the key aspects of health care reform concisely.
The Kaiser Foundation did a study of the subsidies to help individuals and families buy health insurance that will be available next year. Based on their analysis, about 48 percent of adults currently purchasing coverage for themselves will be eligible for subsidies next year – and those subsidies will average $5,548 per family. A newspaper story on the study is at:
Since we know that something related to health care reform will be coming up in next year’s state legislature, we are planning two VMSA lobby days to allow small business folks to talk directly to our elected leaders. We have decided on January 15 and February 19 as the two days for VMSA lobbying. Mark your calendar now and plan to join us. Spending a day in the legislature is a great educational opportunity and we can make a difference!
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