Posts Tagged - ‘health coverage’

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Self-Employed Health Insurance Plans To See Tax Breaks

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

Image: shimelle under CC 3.0

Unlike employees with corporate-sponsored health insurance, the self-employed have had to take charge of their own health care. In most cases, they must pay for their health insurance plans out of pocket.

This year, a provision in the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act will allow self-employed S-corp, single member LLC, or sole proprietorship business owners to deduct the cost of health insurance premiums from their tax returns. Like other corporations, they can deduct health care as a business expense for their 2010 tax returns.

This is especially helpful since sole proprietors have to pay both the employer and employee portions of payroll taxes.

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Health Coverage and HIV/AIDS

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Image: Sully Pixel under CC 3.0

With its affordable health insurance legislation under its belt, the Obama administration has begun tackling a new health issue: the HIV/AIDS crisis. Although new infections have slowed since their peak in the ’80s, many people are still affected.

It is a two-pronged effort, aimed at reducing new infections while increasing access to health care for those who already have it. Instead of allocating significant amounts of new funding, existing funding will be redirected to high-risk populations like African-Americans and gay/bisexual men.

Some fear that the new comprehensive strategy won’t be enough, however. The economy has resulted in many people losing their jobs, which for many also means losing health coverage. Although there are medications that allow HIV patients to live longer and healthier lives, they are still very expensive. The out-of-pocket cost is almost out of reach for the uninsured. In addition, a person with HIV or AIDS would find it almost impossible to buy health insurance on the open market for the next several years.

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ER Visits To Jump With More Health Coverage

Monday, July 5th, 2010

Image: aaron_anderer under CC 3.0

Most people would assume that an increase in the percentage of those with health coverage would result in fewer people going to the emergency room. After all, they would have primary care doctors and the means to get preventative treatment early. That was actually one of the arguments for health insurance reform.

Unfortunately, it may not turn out that way. ERs are actually likely to become even more crowded! There is a shortage of family physicians that won’t be remedied for years. Medicaid patients–not the uninsured–are the most likely to utilize emergency services.

A preview of what may be coming: emergency room visits increased by 4-7% in Massachusetts after that state passed universal healthcare reform.

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Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan Has Launched!

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

Image: twbuckner under CC 3.0

Today is the official launch date of one of the most heavily hyped elements of affordable health insurance reform: the temporary pools for up to 350,000 uninsured people with pre-existing conditions. Only citizens or legal residents who have lacked insurance for over six months are eligible to sign up.

29 states will run their own health insurance pools, while 21 others have left the responsibility up to the federal government’s Department of Health and Human Services. Those living in the latter states can apply today for coverage that begins next month, while others must wait until later this summer. Many of the latter were leery of supplementing their existing high-risk pools with another one that met the new requirements (that rates charged are similar to the rest of the market, etc.) However, the rates charged in each state will vary widely, based on several factors–including age.

These pools are intended as temporary solutions for health coverage, until reforms take full effect in four years. By 2014, these stopgap solutions should no longer be necessary, since health insurers will no longer be allowed to deny coverage to high-risk patients.

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Military Families Can’t Put Adult Children On Health Insurance

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

Image: The U.S. Army under CC 3.0

The good news for families in the military who are insured through Tricare: their health insurance has remained unchanged post-reform. The bad news: they can’t participate in one of the highly-publicized benefits of it.

Unlike civilians with normal health insurance plans, families with Tricare won’t be able to keep their adult, non-dependent children on their coverage until the age of 26.

Defense funding authorization bills currently pending in the House of Representatives and the Senate seeks to remedy this disparity.

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Should Your Health Insurance Plan Cover Acupuncture?

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

Image: Wonderlane under CC 3.0

Many people swear by acupuncture. Some of those who visit alternative practitioners as a last resort after being dissatisfied with traditional medicine are very happy with the results. However, acupuncture treatments are relatively expensive. The vast majority of health insurance plans don’t cover them, meaning that you have to pay for the entire cost of the visit as opposed to a co-payment. Furthermore, it typically takes multiple visits for it to work.

Proponents of acupuncture believe that it should be included in health coverage, due to its reported positive impact for seemingly lower costs. Indeed, doctors refer patients to acupuncturists in a handful of circumstances, and even some hospitals are offering it to patients with anxiety or pain. Flexible spending accounts can be used for acupuncture and some other methods of alternative medicine.

Acupuncture is not included in the proposed lists of “essential services” healthcare reform will require most policies to have. It would obviously result in higher premiums if added onto other treatments some deem frivolous or unnecessary for most. It doesn’t prevent those health insurance providers that do offer acupuncture coverage from limiting the number of visits or placing other restrictions on it. Furthermore, the law also promotes effectiveness testing; unless acupuncture can be proven to work in blind scientific studies, patients will most likely continue paying the whole cost out-of-pocket.

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Immediate Family Health Insurance Changes Post-Reform

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

(Image: Steve Polyak under CC 3.0)

With the passage of the healthcare reform bill comes many changes to family health insurance policies. Some of them occur immediately.

What significant impact will families feel now?

  • Children can no longer be excluded from health insurance plans due to pre-existing conditions.
  • Adult children can remain on your health insurance policy as a dependent until the age of 26.
  • There are no more lifetime or annual caps on health coverage, either per individual or per family.
  • Free preventative care will be offered with new health plans.
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