Beyond Pre-existing Conditions: The Surprising Changes in Health Care Reform

MedSave Admin | April 11, 2010

Whether you love it or hate it, one thing is certain: health care reform is finally here. After endless debates, filibuster drama, and a last minute twist worthy of Law & Order (i.e. Scott Brown's stunning victory in Massachusetts), President Barack Obama has made good on his campaign promise to change health care in the United States.

As the pundits continue to discuss and dissect how this change may impact health insurance costs, surprising information is emerging about the contents of the health care reform bill. With approximately 2,000 pages, many are skeptical that the politicians on the hill actually took the time to read it before voting on it.

Now, as analysts begin to digest the bill's many provisions, some surprising information is coming out about the bill.

More to It Than Pre-existing Conditions

Of course, press coverage on the reform has focused on how it impacts medical coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. To be sure, this will have the most immediate impact on medical insurance in the country. However, tucked away in the bill's pages are other reforms that affect everything from your health insurance costs to the way your kids are taught sex ed in school.

Money Matters

The changes in the health care bill that affect your bottom line are:

  • A 10 percent tax on indoor tanning, beginning July 1, 2010
  • A 20 percent tax on withdrawals from Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) for non-medical expenses. Currently, these withdrawals are taxed at 10 percent. HSAs are commonly combined with high-deductible health plans for low cost medical insurance
  • A $2,500 limit on your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) These accounts let you pay for medical expenses tax-free and are often helpful if you have a pre-existing condition exclusion on you medical insurance
In addition, your W-2 has a new entry in the coming years. Your employer will list how much they spent on your health care plan in the previous year on the tax form. The hope is that greater awareness of the price of health care may help encourage you to take better care of yourself and ultimately discount health insurance costs.

Family Counts Too

The health care reform law not only looks at the money side of the equation. It also spells out new policies that are intended to improve family matters. The changes include:

  • Required breaks for nursing mothers who need to express breast milk during working hours. Businesses with more than 50 employees must offer breaks until the infant is one year old and also provide a private space--other than the bathroom--for mothers to pump their milk
  • $50 million for abstinence-only sex education. The money must be matched by states and be available for at least the next 5 years
  • $1.5 billion for a home visit program targeting teen parents. Pregnant teens are eligible for bi-monthly visits from nurses during pregnancy and for the first years of their child's life. The program seeks to help young parents learn the coping skills needed to effectively raise children

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