Obama Health Care Back on Front Burner

 The health care law continues to move forward.  A few days ago, the administration began to move forward with Obama health care, toward making it illegal by the year 2014 for insurance companies to discriminate against individuals who have pre-existing medical conditions.

News reports claim that consumers will be able to more easily compare health plans with the ACA provisions, and that ultimately the act will allow for a health insurance market that benefits consumers.  Those who have pre-existing conditions will not be discriminated against once the Obama health care provisions are implemented, according to Kathleen Sebelius, Health and Human Services Secretary.

Proposed rules recently issued by the Obama administration include:

Starting in 2014, individuals who have chronic or pre-existing health conditions may not be discriminated against by health insurance companies.  Past health issues, occupation, industry and/or employer size and gender, according to the provision, will no longer be legitimate reasons for health insurance companies to deny coverage or charge increased premiums to select enrollees.  However, health insurance providers can vary premiums based on geographical location, age, family size and tobacco use, but only within limits under Obama health care.

Wellness programs will be implemented and expanded by employers; these programs are designed to control health care spending, and to promote better health of employees.  This proposed rule will purportedly help to ensure that unlike in the past, employees will not be susceptible to unfair underwriting practices which could potentially, based on health status, reduce benefits.

Other changes under Obama health care take place in the near future, such as the Medicare taxes which will apply to individuals who earn more than $200,000 annually, or married couples who earn more than $250,000.  This Medicare tax was implemented beginning in 2013, according to CNN, and was enacted to assist in paying for new federal subsidies consumers will get when they purchase health coverage.  Additionally, a 3.8% tax could be imposed on at least a portion of capital gains and dividends for those who have investment income.

Under Obama health care, employers who employ 50 or more employees who are considered full-time must provide health coverage by 2014; those that fail to do so will be fined $2,000 per employee, however the fines do not apply to the first thirty workers.

Now that it is clear that Obama health care will continue to move forward, hopefully all will work as it is intended to and we will see that millions more U.S. citizens have the coverage they previously could not afford, with little or no ill effects on employers.  This is a topic which has been hotly debated for several years now, many people “pro” Obama health care and many against.  Now that it looks like the Affordable Care Act will continue to stand, perhaps it will ultimately be a good choice for the people of our nation.  The coming two years will certainly be interesting, and hopefully positive in terms of affordable health insurance coverage for all.


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