Thursday, May 23. 2013
One of the biggest problems that experts say Americans might have in their attempts to find coverage under the Affordable Care Act is that it's still at least somewhat unclear how policy providers will charge consumers.
Though it's generally agreed that many consumers will see their cost for health insurance coverage rise, particularly if they are young and relatively healthy, exactly how much it will do so is very much up in the air, according to a report from New Jersey Spotlight. Some estimates show prices could drop slightly overall, others say they could hold steady, while still more project increases into the low double digits or more.
Experts note, however, that if there are increases in rates, consumers will likely be unhappy, which in turn could lead to tighter regulatory restrictions, the report said. Already, a number of states are putting stricter controls into place for exactly this reason as a means of heading potential problems off at the pass.
Consumers who are buying their own insurance will have to carefully consider the ways in which these changes will affect them going forward. Many may see price increases as a result of the rule that costs can only vary within a certain range as people age.
Wednesday, May 22. 2013
Millions of Americans are slated to receive health insurance starting next year thanks to the Affordable Care Act, but the cost of paying for medical care has risen appreciably since the law was passed.
This year, it's believed that the average amount of money it will take to cover a family of four in this country will rise to $22,030, up from $20,728 last year and just $18,074 in 2010, when the ACA was first passed, according to the latest annual Milliman Medical Index. Of that amount, $9,144 is currently paid directly by the households with this type of coverage, between deductions taken from payroll and out-of-pocket costs, and that total is more than they will typically spend on groceries in a given year by a wide margin.
Meanwhile, out-of-pocket costs alone will likely rise to $3,600 for the year, and that total exceeds the average family of four's annual fuel expenditures by nearly $700, the report said.
As a consequence, many consumers may need to carefully consider the best ways in which they can make sure they are covered in compliance with the new healthcare laws, but also keeping their costs for doing so as low as possible.
Tuesday, May 21. 2013
While many Americans will be in a position to have their healthcare costs under the Affordable Care Act reduced through tax credits, more than one-quarter might have significant financial issues beyond that.
Today, 27 percent of Americans who are currently uninsured and under the age of 65 whose household incomes make them eligible for ACA tax credits do not have a checking account and are consequently considered to be "unbanked," according to new research from Jackson Hewitt Tax Service. The reason this could be problematic is that many insurance companies require their customers to pay premiums through automatic deductions for such accounts, and that in turn could make it more difficult for these people to obtain coverage.
This problem will likely be most pronounced in states where the federal government is running their exchanges, as 11 of the 12 states with the largest proportion of unbanked consumers will fit this designation, the report said.
As a result, many Americans may want to look into alternatives to enrolling in federally-run health insurance exchanges that will give them better options for paying for coverage, which might fit their personal needs better.
Monday, May 20. 2013
Experts have long speculated on just how business owners would work to keep their costs down while still complying with the Affordable Care Act's coverage mandate, and now it seems that many are set to offer coverage that comes at an extremely low price but provides little in the way of actual benefits.
Some of the plans that many businesses are now planning to extend their employees could cost them as little as $40 or $100 per month, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. The goal with such plans is to meet the bare minimum requirements of the ACA while also depressing costs as much as possible, though this will likely come at the expense of employee healthcare options.
"What our goal was all along was to make [offering coverage] financially palatable for the company as a whole, so we didn't do damage and have to let people go or slow down our growth," Brian Livingston, chief financial officer of Firebird Restaurant Group, which plans to offer such plans to workers, told the newspaper.
These types of decisions could have significant negative impacts on workers' health, and for this reason, it's important that people who might be offered such plans know their options before they accept them.
Sunday, May 19. 2013
Many Americans will be able to obtain health insurance coverage through their employers for the first time as a result of the Affordable Care Act, but now many experts say that even these changes could be problematic for stay-at-home partners or spouses.
While the ACA mandates that workers and their children must be covered by the insurance policies extended by employers, the rules do not specify that a spouse has to receive such coverage as well, and as such, that might leave many out in the cold, according to a report from Mother Jones. It's not yet clear exactly how employers will treat this potential loophole, but there may be the potential for coverage issues as a result.
"Right now there are virtually no employers that just offer coverage for the employee and their children," Tim Jost, a healthcare law scholar at the Washington and Lee University School of Law, told the site. "Whether that will change or not, who knows. We will probably see at least some employers who will offer individual and child coverage, but not coverage for spouses."
Consumers dealing with changing healthcare coverage may want to review all their options before they commit to any plan provided to them by their employers.