Decode and Understand Your Paycheck

Pay StubI remember when I received my first real pay stub, it was a mixture of happiness and absolute horror. It was my first summer internship after my freshman year of college. I was earning something like $12 and I was pumped that in my first week I’d earn $480. Then I saw my paycheck.

At first glance, your paycheck is a lot of numbers in tables. If you spend a few minutes, you can generally decode and understand what’s going on. However, sometimes it takes a little extra work because your company will use acronyms you aren’t 100% familiar with. When I looked at my first paycheck, I was able to decode it pretty easily… the Feds got their piece, NY state got their piece, and then this weirdo named FICA took a little slice. What? Who the heck is FICA?

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 Your Take 

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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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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Medicare & Medicaid Health Insurance Programs Explained

I’ve never had the need or the opportunity the learn about Medicare or Medicaid, two government programs that garner a lot of attention every two years, and that have recently been in the news because of President Obama’s attempts to bring about health care reform. Like many people, I didn’t understand how either program worked so I decided to do some research and put together this Foundation post.

The biggest difference between the two is eligibility based on financial need. Medicaid is designed to help low-income, financially needy individuals and is administered differently in each state. Medicare is not based on need and is entitlement based, through your payments into the program through your taxes. Medicare is administered nationally and the rules are the same everywhere.

If you’re curious to learn more, read on plucky adventurer because it starts getting a little more complicated. 🙂

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