What’s Affecting You? Healthcare Reform

March 26th, 2010

Health Reform Bill IconHealthcare reform has been debated for years, and as of March 2010 a new bill was signed into law by President Barack Obama. A few revisions to the policy have since been approved by the House and Senate, and the modified document is expected to receive the Presidential signature next week. This bill is intended to change healthcare laws forever, and it has become a controversial issue that is beginning to spark threats of violence.

The healthcare reform bill is a 2,409 page document filled with an overwhelming amount of details. Analysts have been breaking down the content into a few key points to help give people a better understanding of the new legislation. Some of the primary areas of focus include:
1.    People with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied insurance.
Millions of Americans have had their insurance requests denied due to pre-existing medical conditions, or been forced to pay higher rates. The reform bill forbids insurance companies from continuing this practice.

2.    Parents can insure offspring until age 26.
Young children are generally insured on a parent’s policy, but at a certain age they get cut off. While that age varies by state, it can be as young as 19. With the healthcare reform bill, young people would be allowed to remain on a parent’s policy until their 26th birthday.

3.    Subsidies may be available for individuals and families.
According to the reform bill, anyone who does not receive insurance through their place of employment may be entitled to financial support. Every case will be reviewed, and decisions will be based on annual household income and the number of dependents.

4.    Companies with 50+ employees must provide insurance.
Businesses offer employee insurance policies at their own discretion, but the reform bill will make this a requirement for companies with a staff of 50 or more. Any employer may refuse, but those that do will be fined $750 annually for every person who is not insured. That amount could increase to $2,000 a year.

Not every component of the reform bill will be implemented immediately. The “pre-existing conditions” and “increased age limit for dependents” clauses will begin in 2010, but other items won’t be in place for several years. 2011 will bring a dramatic impact for Medicare, when the program will be required to provide preventative care treatment without charging co-pay fees or deductibles.

By 2014, every American will be expected to have insurance. Individuals who do not may be fined $750 each year, or 2% of their annual income. Citizens will also be required to maintain a set level of insurance, which will be determined by the government, to avoid these fines. The final piece of legislation will launch in 2018, when every insurance provider will be required to offer preventative care without charging co-pay fees or deductibles.

Reactions to the healthcare reform bill are growing progressively heated. Several Democratic leaders have been threatened, and a few were given extra protection from FBI agents. Angry citizens have made hostile phone calls, hurled racial slurs, and in one case thrown a brick through a district office window.

Republican leaders who oppose the reform bill were also targeted. An unknown citizen fired a gun into the campaign headquarters of one Virginia Representative, and several others have received anonymous threats. As the healthcare bill continues to move forward, the danger and opportunities for violence are expected to increase.

Those who support healthcare reform say it will ensure that every person in this country receives adequate insurance coverage, put an end to discrimination against pre-existing medical conditions and place a ban on annual limits of coverage. People who oppose the bill fear that it may cause smaller companies to reduce their staff to less than 50 people, drive medium-sized companies out of business, and force people to spend money on insurance whether they want to or not. Another complaint stems from page 158 of the bill … which seems to indicate that members of Congress are exempt from their own healthcare reform bill.

How this will end is anybody’s guess. People feel very strongly about both sides of the issue. What do you think? We want to hear from you – leave us a comment and share your feelings on this explosive topic.

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