News and Events
How Health Care Reform will Impact You in 2011
The beginning of January is a time when many people think about
their New Year's resolutions, but how many have thought about how
the Health Care Law will impact you in 2011? According to the Henry
J. Kaiser Family Foundation, there are several health law changes
to be aware of this year.
Fighting hospital infections
In July, Medicaid will stop paying for treatment of some
hospital-acquired infections. The Medicare program for the elderly
and disabled and many private insurers already ban payments for
treating many of these infections.
It has how many calories?
Beginning soon after the Food and Drug Administration finalizes
rules in 2011, chain restaurants with 20 or more locations, and
owners of 20 or more vending machines will have to display calorie
information on menus, menu boards and drive-thru signs. Restaurants
must also provide diners with a brochure that includes detailed
Restrictions on medical savings accounts
Consumers with flexible spending accounts (FSAs), in which
pre-tax income can be used for medical purchases, can no longer
spend the money on over-the-counter drugs, including ones that
treat fevers or allergies and acne, unless they have a doctor's
prescription. The new restrictions, which lawmakers included in the
health overhaul to raise more revenue, also apply to health
reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), health savings accounts (HSAs)
and Archer medical savings accounts (MSAs). Starting this year,
those with HSA or MSA accounts who spend money inappropriately will
not only owe taxes on it, but will also face a tax penalty of 20
percent, double what it was. For all pre-tax accounts, medical
devices such as eyeglasses and crutches, and co-pays and
deductibles still qualify for the accounts. Insulin obtained
without a prescription is also eligible.
Lower Rx costs for seniors
Prescription drug costs could shrink $700 for a typical Medicare
beneficiary in 2011, as the law begins to close the gap in
prescription coverage when millions of seniors must pay full price
at the pharmacy. Starting in January, drug companies will give
seniors 50 percent off brand name drugs while in the gap, excluding
those low-income people who already receive subsidies. Generics
will also be cheaper.
Higher Medicare Premiums
Medicare premiums in 2011 will increase for individuals with
incomes of $85,000 or higher or couples with incomes of $170,000 or
higher. Their monthly premiums this year will be between $161.50
and $369.10, while the standard premium will be $115.40. Also,
premiums for Medicare Part D, which covers prescription drugs, for
the first time will be linked to income.
Bolstering seniors' access to primary care
Medicare is bumping up payments for primary care by 10 percent
from January 1 through the end of 2015. It's an incentive for
doctors and others who specialize in primary care - including
nurses, nurse practitioners and physician assistants - to see the
swelling numbers of seniors and disabled people covered by the
program. Health practitioners will qualify for the bonus only if 60
percent or more of the services they provide are for primary care.
General surgeons also will receive an increase if they're
practicing in areas where there are doctor shortages.
Several provisions of the law promote prevention of disease.
Medicare enrollees will be able to get many preventive health
services - such as vaccinations and cancer screenings - for free
starting in January. Also starting in January, Medicare
beneficiaries can get a free annual wellness exam from their
doctors who will set up a personalized prevention plan for them.
The plan includes a review of the individuals' medical history and
a screening schedule for the next decade. In addition, the law
authorizes the federal government to issue grants totaling $200
million for companies with fewer than 100 workers that start
wellness programs focused on nutrition, smoking cessation, physical
fitness and stress management.
Source: Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation