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‘Obamacare’ passes the test

By Jennie L. Phipps ·
Thursday, June 28, 2012
Posted: 5 pm ET

Today's U.S. Supreme Court decision affirming the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act means -- as Ed Fensholt, attorney and compliance expert at insurer Lockton Inc., says -- "The train is on the track and going full speed ahead."

How could that affect retirement planning, particularly for those of us who are at the stage of life when insurance has been hard to buy, and what will the impact be for Medicare recipients? For the most part, these questions haven't yet been fully answered. But here are a couple of issues for people thinking about retirement to consider:

The law gives more access to information necessary to evaluate the performance of health care providers. Jane Hyatt Thorpe, associate research professor at the Department of Health Policy at the George Washington University School of Public Health, calls this part of the law the most significant for Medicare recipients. The law provides for evaluations of physicians based on quality measures culled from patient data, colleague evaluations, hospital records and consumer satisfaction reports. Doctors who don't meet or exceed the standards face financial penalties. But more important, armed with this information, patients can vote with their feet and go elsewhere.

More tools to end health care fraud. "There are incredibly high rates of fraud in the Medicare system. This law puts real focus on enforcement to  both protect Medicare recipients from fraudulent practices and save taxpayers money," Thorpe says.

Greater availability of insurance. If you aren't old enough for Medicare, this law makes it easier for you to buy insurance, even though you have health conditions that previously would have led insurance companies to reject you. The law also provides financial help for more people who are unable to pay the going rate for health insurance.

Fensholt says today's decision makes this part of the law murkier. The Supreme Court wrote in its decision that the provision in the Affordable Care Act to deny states Medicaid funding if they fail to expand their Medicaid program to cover potential recipients who make more than 100 percent but less than 133 percent of the federal poverty level is possibly unconstitutional. The court agreed to overlook the issue if the federal government doesn't enforce the cutoff provision.

"How this will play out isn't clear," Fensholt says, "The federal government could construe the law to say if you can't get into your state's Medicaid program, then you are eligible for an exchange program, but the law doesn't explicitly say that. We might have people caught in the middle."

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July 21, 2012 at 2:06 am

Dems- Health care coverage wutioht denial of insurance based on pre-existing conditions; premium cost solely based on age; mandate that everyone must purchase health insurance.Repubs- Health insurance companies can deny insurance and set premium cost wutioht regulation; sicker people likely to pay more, if they can get insurance at all; no mandate for purchase of health insurance. OR perhaps option 3 would be better who knows, it ALL sucks for

July 03, 2012 at 3:57 pm

This did not address the costs of healthcare. Why do certain injectible drugs cost $6000.00 a month? Who can afford that? All the mandates are ridiculous. Why do you have to give employees 60 day notice for changes to a plan? Some times you do not know the changes? Why do you have to distribute your Schedule of Benefits on an 8 page sheet in a specific font and color? Why does the employer have to set up a room for breasfeeding/pumping room for breastfeeding mothers? Will the employers have to set up an injectible room for employees needing to inject their medication? Will the employers have to set up a gym for the fat people in their building? Very few if any good things about this law. It is a small start, but a very poor start and example!!!

unhappy camper
July 02, 2012 at 12:13 am

my perspective is simple, i am going to lose my job, i work for a small business, at 43 tenure and seniority mean nothing when reentering the job market at my age. the business cannot support the requirements placed upon businesses. i cannot afford this, and neither can my employer.

June 29, 2012 at 8:40 pm

Homeless states:
"It may have passed but it shows what a liar he is" Really? Please note that it was the SUPREME COURT'S interpretation that the law was constitutional on the basis of taxation. Mr. Obama did not construe the program as any kind of tax.
Please remember also that the party of NO made it all but impossible for the president to enact any laws.
You are free to choose your politics, but don't expect to defame those you don't support and be excused.
Now, when Ronald Reagan gets elected on the basis of TAX CUTS, and then proceeds to RAISE taxes 11 TIMES, and calls them not taxes, but "adjustments", or "re-alignments" that's a lie!
Reagan was a serial tax raiser. He nearly tripled the federal budget deficit. Unemployment soared after Reagan’s 1981 tax cuts. Unemployment jumped to 10.8%.Reagan grew the size of the federal government tremendously, even as he promised “to move boldly, decisively, and quickly to control the runaway growth of federal spending,” but federal spending “ballooned” under Reagan. There's much more, but people like you want to blame Mr. Obama for problems he did not create, while perpetuating the myth of the Republican "fiscal conservatism".

June 29, 2012 at 6:59 pm

This is going to be a never ending nightmare once this monster gets rolling. Obammy really shoved it up our rears w/ this hideous thing.

June 29, 2012 at 10:19 am

The current healthcare system is inappropriate and incompatible with our increasingly mobile workforce.
Basically if you're employed and have insurance or if you're on medicare/medicaid, you're "OK", if not, you're hanging from a limb. Personally, I'd like to have the option to work as a contractor if the right opportunity presented itself. Currently, I'm afraid to enter the individual health insurance market.

Of course the wealthy (most Repubicans)don't like Obamacare. They are covered or self-insured and do not care to contribute towards their fellow Americans' well being. What they choose to forget is everyone pays for the uninsured.

June 29, 2012 at 8:53 am

It may have passed but it shows what a liar he is. It passed on the basis that the individual mandate is a TAX (increase), which he profusely denied the entire time he touting this thing to the people.

All this means for me, as the head of a lower-middle class family, is I'm stuck with coverage that is getting more and more expensive, providing less and less coverage AND now I'll have once again pay for people that do nothing to contribute to society to be covered.

Two things I realize are there ARE people that NEED the help, because they truly cannot take care of themselves (elderly, disabled and children that cannot get coverage through their parents...they should not be punished even if their parents don't fall into the need category).

AND the healthcare system (including medicare & madicaid) needs an overhaul. However, this particular bill did not solve anything...just take more money from the already struggling, disappearing middle class to distribute to SOME people (exluding those mentioned above) that are just too lazy to get a job...or those that feel it's better to not work and live off the system because what's out there is beneath them.