Health Care Reform

If you are feeling confused about health care reform, you are not alone.  There are at least 1000 places within The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA or “The Act”) that the statement “to be defined by the HHS (Health and Human Services Secretary)” appears.  Hence the rules are still being written.  However, some regulations take effect in 2010.

First if you are a small business that offers coverage to employees, and the average wages of your employees are less than $50,000 per year, you may be eligible for a tax credit to help with the cost of coverage, even if you don’t owe income taxes.  The credit will start at 35% of health insurance premiums in the first year and will vary depending on your (the business owner’s) circumstances.  Your agent/broker should be able to help you through how it works or go to the IRS website for more information.

You may also have heard that your benefits may be improving.  A number of these benefits will be required on plans that renew or begin September 23, 2010.  One of those benefits is that caps or maximum benefit limits will be lifted.  (i.e. if your plan has a maximum benefit limitation of $1 million it would now change to unlimited maximums.).

Another new benefit is  that if your plan covers dependents they can be covered to age 26, even if they are not full time students and even if they are married.  Keep in mind that this applies to plans that renew after the September 23rd date.

The Act also provides for enhanced preventative care services.  Meaning that benefits for preventative care will be covered at 100% no co-pay or deductible.  The benefit applies to most plans and exact services that must be covered have yet to be “defined”, but are expected soon.

Keep in mind that although these benefits are wonderful they come with a price tag.  Unfortunately, there will be no choice in their implementation as they are required to be included in all health coverage now.