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What's New in Health Insurance?

A lot of health insurance changes have been made in order to improve the efficiency of our nation’s health care system.  Although many reforms do not take effect until 2014, several important new regulations have already been put into effect and you should understand how they affect you.

Health Insurance Changes Update

Recent legislation aims – among many other goals – to ensure that a broader proportion of the population is covered by insurance, which presumably reduces the burden on the health care system.  One of the biggest changes in health insurance news: in a few years, health care insurance will be mandatory for most;  those who don't carry insurance may face a possible federal penalty. 

How will this be implemented?  First, lawmakers have determined to expand Medicaid benefits to a larger population and, second, they plan to provide consumer-friendly options to help non-Medicaid individuals purchase their own plans.  The goal is to increase levels of insurance coverage amongst Americans, which would encourage more doctor visits.  More visits to the physician’s office means increased prevention and reduces the need for serious, more expensive operations that currently cripple our health care system.

The more stringent insurance coverage requirements means most employers will have to pay more for health care benefits.  And this means that employers are likely to pass these higher costs to, ahem, you – in the form of higher deductibles, premiums, or co-payments.

Health Insurance Changes for Employers

But before you decide that things look too dim, remember that there is good intention behind these changes; these health insurance changes will hopefully improve the overall health care system.  For example, the new health care law protects those individuals in the “high-risk pool” with chronic illness, for whom it was previously near-impossible to find coverage.  In addition, over the next few years, more and more insurance plans will move towards paying for preventive services such as physicals and immunizations in full. 

Employers are required to do away with any lifetime or annual coverage caps, which help those who have high medical costs and faced the possibility of paying for extra medical costs out of their own pocket.  By 2014, some employers may even be fined if they fail to provide insurance for their employees.  And your children will likely be eligible to be covered under your plan even longer – from age 18 previously to 26 years old.

For those without employer coverage, there will be new insurance exchanges – basically, a marketplace that makes it easier for you to learn about and compare different private health care plans.

So stay tuned over the next few months, as health insurance changes will be noticeable starting January.  Health insurance news is popping up often as lawmakers and states begin to enact all these reforms.  It’s a not an easy job for the people that have to make it all happen!

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