For the past four years, national health care has been at the forefront of political debates with the election of Barack Obama as president and a Democratic Congress that passed the Affordable Care Act early in 2010.
Just under three years later, America is getting a chance to see what is in the bill.
It is a new year, and although the ACA remains controversial among the American electorate there are some revisions to health care that have met with approval from many people, regardless of party lines.
Policies already online that will get more attention in 2013 include the ability to permit care based on pre-existing condition or gender, and the ability for a child to stay on a parent’s medical insurance policy until they turn 26 years old.
The biggest health care changes haven’t come in actual care as of yet. According to healthcare.gov, the government's health-care website, the big change will hit your pocketbook with the implementation of an increased Medicare tax from 1.45 to 2.35 percent for high-income earners ($200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for couples). Those same high earners will also be taxed 3.8 percent on unearned income (worker benefits, inheritance money, etc.)
This money will go toward funding some programs key to the Medicaid portion of care. The Children’s Health Insurance Program will get two more years of funding for states. CHIP gives insurance to lower-income children who do not qualify for Medicaid, and that increased funding will come with increased federal funding to state Medicaid programs that give preventive services.
The Consumer Operated and Oriented Program is a non-profit health insurer that is supposed to come online by January 2014, with the idea that small business owners band together to offer health insurance for their employers by becoming a bigger pool, rather than an individual company offering individual plans for individual customers. You may have heard about this in the news as an Affordable Insurance Exchange.
Sound confusing? As the year continues, things will start to fall into place. According to the federal government’s health care website, healthcare.gov, hospitals, doctors and care providers will earn a flat fee for services provided rather than a fee for each test or procedure performed. This has attracted some controversy in the fear that it will decrease payments to doctors and care providers for their services and maybe drive them away from the profession toward other jobs that would pay more money. After all, you have to make a living, true?
With so many changes coming to the health-care system in the next year, companies may be wise to use all avenues available to make things easier. Find ways to save money by comparing insurance policies. Utilize a healthcare financial services company that deals in this sort of business, to help companies find ways to save money and uncover unclaimed health funds.
The Affordable Care Act may or may not turn out to be affordable. Time will tell. What we do know in the next year is some of the questions will get answers. How you as a company approach the answers remains to be seen.