Health Care Reform: 10 Frequently Asked Questions
Martha Lynn Craver
Kiplinger Personal Finance
The new health care bill is more than 2,000 pages long -- with hundreds more to come from regulators filling in the details. It will literally take years before all the details are set and everyone can see how the plan will affect their particular situation. But here are 10 commonly asked questions that can be answered now:
Q: I own a business with 35 employees. I don't provide health care insurance but I'm hoping to soon. How will this bill affect me?
A: Because you have more than 25 workers, you won't get the employer tax credits that start right away. Instead, you'll have to wait until 2014, which is when states start operating the Small Business Health Options Program, or SHOP Exchanges, where small businesses will be able to pool together to buy insurance. The Congressional Budget Office forecasts that the exchanges would bring premiums down as much as 4 percent while still adding more people to the rolls of insured.
Q: What if my business grows to more than 50 workers?
A: Starting in 2014, firms with 50 or more workers will be required to offer either health care insurance or pay a fee of up to
Q: I'm self-employed and buy insurance on my own. Last year, it went up
A: That's hard to predict. The legislation does immediately create a process for reviewing increases in health plan premiums and requires plans to justify any increases. And once the state-based American Health Benefit Exchanges are up and running in 2014, you'll be able to shop for health insurance among competing carriers.
Q: My employer has a good health plan. Will I have to pay more?
A: Not as a result of the legislation. Your costs may go up in the next few years, but rising medical costs are mostly to blame for what's driving up premiums now. The health care reform law does contain cost control provisions but they won't have much of an effect on medical costs for at least five years.
Q: I'm a
A: That's certainly possible later on, but in the short term you'll pay less for preventive services and prescription drugs. Starting in 2011, those in
At the same time, those beneficiaries who have high drug costs and fall into the "doughnut hole" coverage gap will get a
Q: My Medicare is supplemented by my former employer. Is that in danger?
A: If your former employer offers prescription drug coverage to
You may have to pay more if your supplemental coverage is through
Q: I make
A: You do face higher taxes. Starting in 2013, individuals will pay a higher
Q: I just graduated from college. I don't have a job and can't afford insurance. Will I be affected?
A: You will be eligible for coverage under your parents' health care plan as long as you're single, under age 26 and are not eligible for other employer-provided health coverage. This will be available for plan years beginning six months from now or later.
Q: My family has income of about
A: You might be eligible for government subsidies to help you pay for private insurance that will be sold in the new health exchanges that will begin operation in 2014. Premium subsidies will be available for families with incomes from
Q: My insurance coverage was canceled last year when I exceeded the lifetime cap. Can I get back on it now?
A: You probably would qualify for the new high-risk pools. A participant will pay the full cost, but the premiums will be set as if the person does not have a preexisting condition.
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Personal Finance - Health Care Reform: 10 Frequently Asked Questions
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