Has it really been a full year since the country has been locked in to the healthcare debate? It seems like it’s been forever and at the same time, it seems like we seriously began talking about this only yesterday. Well, yesterday our President signed what has been called the most sweeping reform of healthcare since Medicaid was established. I’m beyond the hype, sterotypes, hatemongering and vitriol that I’ve seen others display recently. While I could care less what people think about this legislation, I’m really interested in how it will affect me. Let’s explore.
First let’s start with my stats. I’m 31, single, employed make under 88K (we’ll see why I used that number later) and get my healthcare through my employer for which I pay nothing (don’t be jealous). My family doesn’t have a history of any persistent medical conditions (grandma lived to be 92 and her 94 year old twin sister is still trucking along beautifully). I don’t have any major illnesses but I have torn my Achilles which bothers me from time to time and I was in a car accident so I go to the chiropractor on average 4 times a year to get straightened out. Oh, and I wear glasses.
With this new change I can keep my plan or I can buy insurance through exchanges beginning in 2014. The government estimates that if I keep my plan, insurance costs will go up over 10% which my employer will pass on to me. What does that mean for me? I might have to pay a coinsurance fee which I don’t pay now, or I might have to pay higher deductibles when I go to the doctor.
Because my family of four (well officially I’m a family on one, but whatever) makes less than 250K I won’t have to pay a higher Medicare payroll tax but if your family does get ready to dish out more money starting in 2014. If my hypothetical family of four made 88K or less, then I could buy insurance from the government on a sliding scale. Because I’m a family of one, I’d pay the full amount. In that case, I’m not moving from my employer’s plan.
Since I’m keeping my plan, within 6 months my job has to remove lifetime limits on coverages and can’t cancel my policy if I get sick. My job also has to people with “kids” that would have fallen out of coverage stay on their parents’ policy until the “kid” gets to age 26 – if the parent wants. Lucky break. I remember going to the local clinics from ages 18 to 22. Try getting a wisdom tooth pulled when you’re in college with no insurance.
This one pisses me off. Starting in 2013, flexible spending accounts (remember my post on that) will have some serious limits! The max that I can sock away will be $2,500 AND I can’t use the money for over the counter stuff. I use this right now specifically for OTC medications and of course to reduce y tax load. I’m really ticked about this.
But, I guess it won’t all be bad. There’s a provision in the bill to have all chain restaurants list calorie counts of their food where you can see it. We already passed that law in New York. Would you like to know the result? After 6 months, average calorie consumption actually increased! In order to avoid having to post calories, some small chain restaurants here changed the names of individual locations so that they would not be considered part of a chain anymore. Slick!
Would you like to know how this bill affects you? The New York Times has a pretty good interactive tool that you should check out. It doesn’t cover everything but it’s a decent start.