After a challenging year of debate and restructuring, a landmark decision by the White House gave birth to a new health care bill, signed into law by President Barack Obama just a few days ago. The focus of the health care reform bill, to take effect in 2014, is to provide health insurance coverage to 32 million people who can’t afford insurance.
The law’s extensive changes include a mandate for Americans to carry health insurance, whether through an employer, government program or self-purchase. Fines will be issued to those who do not observe this requirement. Additionally, tax credits will be available to middle-class and low-income families who may be affected by higher premiums.
Evelyn Truhn, a nurse from Baldwin who recently moved to New Hampshire with her family, explained that the law will “even out the playing field between the wealthy and the middle class people.”
One of the good things that came out of the struggle to reform health is that all businesses are going to have to carry health care insurance—they should be offering health care to their employees,” said Truhn.
While some feel that the law is long overdue, there is general public skepticism and a feeling of unrest about rising expenses, including high costs of prescription drugs, new techniques, malpractice insurance, and using benefits without knowing the actual cost of services. Other concerns that can result in higher costs, according to Walczak Associates, Inc
., a Stonybrook-based independent broker representing medical, dental, life, disability and specified disease insurance, are the following:
- Moral Hazard – this simply states that because people do not pay out-of-pocket, they will use more expensive health care than necessary—people may go to the doctor when there really isn’t a need, or insist on getting a CT scan for a slight injury when an ace bandage will suffice.
- Treatment variation – There are regional treatment variations and spending for patients, even of the same age, socio-economic and health backgrounds.
- Ineffective chronic and preventative care.
- Overtreatment – a main culprit in the soaring cost of American health care.
New government rules will require insurance companies to provide coverage to children and adults with pre-existing medical conditions, and dependent children up to the age of 26. Insurance companies also will not be allowed to revoke existing policies to people who become ill; and life-time dollar limits on policies will be banned.
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