Coming soon to a health care plan near you: The Health-Care Law Provisions Taking Effect in 2011

Change is scary but knowing what to expect helps. Check out the changes to our nation’s healthcare that will be in effect starting in 2011. Please note that most of the big stuff is happening in 2014. -SP

By Katherine Hobson
Parts of the uncatchily named Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka the health-care overhaul law, began to kick in earlier this year. But in 2011, other provisions will roll out — some as soon as January 1.

The Kaiser Family Foundation counts 21 provisions taking effect next year. Among them:

-The requirement that the proportion of premium dollars spent on medical care must amount to at least 80% for small business plans and 85% for large group plans will kick in. The so-called medical loss ratio was the subject of discussion and lobbying this year as insurers jockeyed to meet the requirements — and to avoid paying consumers rebates if they don’t.
It’s the beginning of the end for the Medicare prescription-drug “doughnut hole.” Next year drug makers will provide a 50% discount on brand-name medications that fall into that coverage gap. Federal subsidies for generics will also begin.

-For Medicare beneficiaries, there will be no cost-sharing for certain preventive health services that receive an A or B rating from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

-You won’t be able to pay for OTC drugs out of your flexible spending account, unless those drugs have been prescribed by a physician. (There are some exceptions.) We wrote recently about the change and how to figure out what’s eligible. The same applies to health reimbursement accounts.

-Calorie counts and other nutritional information will be posted on chain-restaurant menus and on food sold via vending machines.
The health-care overhaul law’s major provisions — such as the mandate that almost everyone purchase insurance, the requirement that insurers accept all comers and the establishment of state-based insurance exchanges — don’t take effect until 2014.

Click here to read the full article and the many helpful links at the Wall Street Journal online.

US News and World Report: Report Finds Baby Boomers to Gain Most From Health Care Reform

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Dec. 14 (HealthDay News) — America’s Baby Boomers may be poised to benefit the most from health-care reform, a new report shows.

Some of those gains will come right away, such as the elimination of restrictions on people with preexisting conditions, while others — no more lifetime limits on health insurance and subsidized coverage through health insurance exchanges — are slated for 2014, as more provisions of the Affordable Care Act are rolled out.

On Monday, a federal district judge in Virginia ruled that a key provision of the law, which mandates coverage for most Americans, was unconstitutional. Most analysts expect the case to eventually reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

The new report, from the Commonwealth Fund, is the sixth in a series examining how the new reform package, signed into law in March by President Barack Obama, will change health-care coverage in the United States.

“This report paints a picture of the Baby Boomer generation whose health and financial security are in jeopardy because of rising health-care costs and declining coverage,” Cathy Schoen, senior vice president at Commonwealth Fundm, said during a Monday news conference. “The good news is that the Affordable Care Act is already making a difference and things will continue to improve. We will enter a new era in health care with an end to turning people down for health insurance because of age and health.”

But Devon Herrick, a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis, is worried that these forthcoming changes could skew the system for the worse.

Read more at US News and World Report’s website.