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Oct 10, 2010

Health Care Reform – Changes to Your Healthcare as of September 23, 2010, Part 1

September 23, 2010 – another important date for Health Care Reform. Health Care Reform is the newest media buzz, but it is still such a mystery for so many people. It is hard to understand what changes take place and when. And, it doesn’t help that there are so many misconceptions floating around. So, let me explain the changes being made by Health Care Reform as of September 23, 2010.

Changes Already In Place

  • $250 Medicare Drug Cost Rebate
    In June, 2010, checks started being mailed out to an estimated 4 million senior citizens that have reached the “donut hole”. The “donut hole” is the gap in Medicare prescription drug coverage many seniors face when they hit a certain age. Checks will continue to be mailed out monthly throughout 2010 as seniors hit the coverage gap.
  • Cracking Down on Health Care Fraud
    Just during fiscal year 2009, $2.5 billion has been returned to the Medicare Trust Fund as a result of efforts to fight fraud. The Affordable Care Act invests new resources and requires new screening procedures for health care providers to boost these fraud-fighting efforts and reduce fraud and waste in Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP.
  • Small Business Tax Credits
    The first phase of this provision provides a credit worth up to 35% of the employer’s contribution to the employee’s health insurance, and up to 25% for small non-profit organizations. Up to 4 million small businesses are eligible for these tax credits. It is designed to help them provide insurance benefits to their workers.
  • Expanding Coverage for Early Retirees
    On June 1, 2010, applications for employers to participate in this program became available. Americans that retire before they are eligible for Medicare and are without employer-sponsored insurance, are forced to pay high rates in the individual market. They watch their life savings dwindle away. To help preserve employer coverage for early retirees until more affordable coverage becomes available through the new Exchanges by 2014, the Affordable Care Act has created a $5 billion program to provide coverage to people who retire early, as well as their spouses and dependents. Early retirement is classified for these purposes as those that retire between the ages of 55 and 65. Get more information on the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program (www.ERRP.gov).
  • Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plans
    On July 1, 2010, the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan was created to provide new coverage options to individuals who have been uninsured for at least 6 months because of a pre-existing condition. Each state had the option to run this new program in their state or have the Department of Health and Human Services establish a plan in that state.
  • Allowing States to Cover More People on Medicaid
    Effective April 1, 2010, states are able to receive federal matching funds to cover some additional low-income individuals and families under Medicaid whom federal funds were not previously available. For states that choose to cover more of their residents, this will make it easier to do so. On January 1, 2014, the rest of this provision will go into place where it becomes mandatory that states provide Medicaid to additional residents who wouldn’t normally qualify.
  • Putting Information for Consumers Online
    An easy-to-use website, www.HealthCare.gov, where consumers can compare health insurance coverage options and pick the coverage that works for them became mandated on July 1, 2010.

As you can see, we have already had several important aspects of the Health Care Reform put in place. Some of these provisions are phase 1 of a program that spans over 4 years to complete.

The most important thing to remember is that currently, there is not a guaranteed issue plan or an Exchange in which you can purchase affordable insurance. Those changes don’t come into effect until 2014. Try to find a health care plan that you can afford.  To get several quotes where you can compare plans and prices for one that fits your needs and budget, contact an insurance agency that handles multiple insurance carriers. Alliance & Associates is a large insurance agency with a small town feel. With 5+ of the top carriers to choose from, they can help you get health insurance quotes that reflect prices you can afford with many plan options, while maintaining a friendly, personal service. Just fill out the quick form and get a response within minutes.

In Part 2 of this article series, I will explain the Health Care Reform changes that start on September 23, 2010.

About the Author:
Susan McCool is the Marketing Director for Alliance & Associates, a large insurance agency with a small town feel. Susan and the entire Alliance & Associates team are dedicated to bringing you the information you need about insurance to make informed decisions as a consumer. For up-to-date information on the Health Care Reform and health insurance tips, follow us on Facebook and Twitter!

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