Health Care 
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comments

4 annoying things about the Obamacare rollout and how to deal

Just days after finally getting a stopgap budget passed and turning the lights back on at the federal government, Washington politicians woke up to an ugly reality: There have been some rather large and nasty bugs in the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare.

Here are some of the biggest Obamacare issues stressing out consumers, and how you can deal with them.
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 Insurance 
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Money Leaks: Not Using Your Medical Benefits

A lot has been made about health care in the United States, especially given the recent passage of “health care reform.” Proponents of health care reform argue that it wasn’t enough, enemies of the bill say that it puts an undue burden on businesses and is government interference in our personal lives. No matter how you approach it, health care is a big issue because, bottom line, we all want to be healthy, right?

Well, as it turns out, it’s very easy for you to not use all of your medical benefits. I don’t mean flexible spending accounts, which are the most obvious benefit that could be squandered either by not participating or letting a balance expire. I mean the regular routine checkups you are eligible for but don’t take advantage of.

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 Insurance 
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Over-The-Counter Not Eligible for Flexible Spending Accounts in 2011

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act signed by President Obama in March made a bunch of major changes to health care in America and one of them was to flexible spending accounts. Starting in 2011, over-the-counter products will not be eligible for flexible spending accounts. In fact, they will not be reimbursable under FSAs, health savings accounts (HSA), or health reimbursement arrangements (HRA) unless they are prescribed by a physician. There is only one exception and that’s for insulin.

This means that the days of loading up on band-aids, Tylenol and Advil, and other products you pick up in the drug section of your supermarket are no longer eligible unless your doctor prescribes it. While the rules on what is necessary documentation for reimbursement have yet to be introduced, this might start introducing additional paperwork at the doctor’s office. Advising to take two aspirin and calling it a day might have to come with a prescription.

Also, annual contribution limits to your FSA will be limited to $2,500 a year.


 Health Care 
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comments

How to Choose the Right Health Insurance Plan

AmbulanceI bet your head is swimming right now with all the new acronyms you’ve been seeing after the first few days on the job. But as the old adage goes, these are good problems to have, especially in the current economy. One of the biggest decisions you’ll have to make in the first few weeks of starting work is what your health benefits are.

Some companies offer a few choices, some offer only one, some offer none. Regardless of your options, it’s important that you review them carefully because this will likely be one of the more importance decisions you’ll make this month.

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 NEWS 
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Details on Health Care Law’s Under-26 Coverage Rules

StudyingAs you may recall, the health care bill that was recently signed into law included provisions for the extension of dependent health insurance to those under 26. Specifically – “Young adults will be able to stay on their parents’ health plans until the age of 26. Many health plans currently drop dependents from coverage when they turn 19 or finish college.”

This week the government released the details of how this would work.
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 Your Take 
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Your Take: Health Care Reform Bill

You knew this was coming. :)

On Sunday, the House passed H.R. 3590, the Senate version of the health care bill, along with another bill (H.R. 4872 Reconciliation Act of 2010) to reconcile differences. HR 3590 was signed into law on Tuesday and the reconciliation bill, which the Senate passed yesterday.

Overall my feelings on the bill are mixed but mostly positive. I like the reform elements like preventing rescission and excluding children for coverage for pre-existing conditions. I love that we are moving a little towards preventative care versus prescriptive care, I’d like to see more of that. I’m a little mixed at some of the small business elements where employers are forced to buy insurance, but I think they are palatable because they don’t take into effect unless you have over 50 employees. I’m indifferent to the various Medicare and Medicaid elements that affect doctor payments because I am unfamiliar with how the system actually words (vs. on paper).
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 NEWS 
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House Passes Health Care Reform H.R. 3590 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

As you’ve no doubt heard, last night the House of Representatives passed H.R. 3590 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in a vote of 219-212. 3590 then heads to President Obama’s desk for his signature into law. The House also passed HR 4872 Reconciliation Act of 2010, which now heads to the Senate for a vote, needing only a simple majority. Regardless of how you feel about health care reform in general and the bill specifically, it’s important to understand what’s inside because it will affect you and your family.

Fortunately, we can rely on a straightforward recap by Reuters plus a few details from the Tax Foundation. There will be no commentary on my part to get in the way of the facts, just what’s in the bill if it’s signed by law.

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 Insurance 
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Finding Affordable Self Employed Health Insurance

Red StethescopeWith the downturn and massive loss of jobs (unemployment stands at 9.7%), a lot of people are finding work as independent contractors. Some are finding contract work at fewer than full time. Others are simply seeing employers are now preferring to go with contractors to reduce expenses. Independent contractors don’t require benefits like health insurance, 401(k), vacation, or sick time.

One such person is reader Amanda, who recently emailed me to ask me about self-employed health insurance. I have done research on it in the past but with the current state of the economy, I think I should take a renewed look at self employed health insurance. So without further delay, how to find affordable self employed health insurance and then a brief discussion on why self employed health insurance is different.

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