The United States recently marked the two-year anniversary of the passage of the Patient Protection Act, better known as Obamacare. The legislation could transform health care services in this country. If it is implemented in current form, expect these things to happen in 2013 and 2104.
1. Contributions for flexible spending accounts will be limited to $2,500 a year.
2. Threshold for deducting for medical reimbursement medical expenses will increase from 7.5% to 10% of adjusted gross income.
3. Medicare tax rate increases to 2.35% from 1.45% on earnings over $200,000 for individuals and $250,000 for families. Also for first time, a 3.8% Medicare tax will be imposed on unearned income.
1. A state based health care exchange – a marketplace where uninsured individuals and small businesses can comparison shop for insurance policies will be created.
2. Most Americans will be required to buy health care insurance or pay fines of $95 per individual and up to $285 per family or 1% of taxable household income whichever is greater (increases in 2015 to $325 for individuals, $975 for families or 2% of taxable incomes).
3. Companies with 50 or more employees will pay a fine if any of their full-time workers qualify for federal health care subsidies.
4. Medicaid coverage expands to 133% of poverty.
5. An annual fee totaling $8 billion will be imposed on health care companies.
As you can see, there will be many opportunities for confusion in these proposed changes. One thing is for sure: There will be less money in the health care system to provide services. In addition, I don’t believe these changes can be implemented without limit of choice. Patients hold as very important their ability to make choices in health care providers.
While it is going to be an especially challenging two years, NMC will do all that it can to preserve the best of our system.
Steve Kelly is President and CEO of Newton Medical Center.