Last night, Congress led by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, succeeded in finally passing legislation that will empower 31 million people with a new right to health insurance and remake the nation’s health care system. Many of those people without healthcare are small business owners, who have been struggling to keep their businesses afloat. Just after the vote passed, President Obama said, “This legislation will not fix everything that ails our health care system, but it moves us decisively in the right direction. This is what change looks like.”
So what does this really mean for you and your business? Once signed into law by President Obama, working professionals will no longer need to keep their job to have health insurance. No longer will those without financial means and pre-existing medical conditions be subject to the greed of health insurance companies.
- Small businesses with fewer than 25 employees and average annual wages of less than $50,000 will be eligible for tax credits to cover up to 35% of their insurance premiums.
- Companies with more than 50 workers that don’t offer health-insurance coverage would pay an assessment of $2,000 per full-time worker if any of their workers gets a tax credit to buy coverage.
- Employers with more than 200 employees would be required to enroll all employees automatically in their health-insurance plans, though workers could still opt out.
- Legislation would place a $2,500 limit on what can be contributed to employer-sponsored flexible spending accounts funded with pre-tax dollars from employees.
Here’s 10 Things the new health care reform means for you and your family.
- New insurance plans would have to pay full cost of certain preventive care and exempt this care from deductibles. (The requirement wouldn’t apply to existing policies until 2018.)
- Insurers wouldn’t be allowed to cancel policies just because a person became sick
- No more lifetime or annual caps on coverage
- Insurers would be barred from denying adults coverage because of a pre-existing health condition. (The provision doesn’t take effect until 2014.)
- Adults with pre-existing conditions may buy into a national high-risk pool until the exchanges come online.
- Children could stay on their parents’ insurance policies until their 26th birthday
- Children under age 19 may not be excluded for pre-existing conditions
- The “donut hole” closes for Medicare patients, making prescription medications more affordable for seniors.
- Requirement that all insurers must post their balance sheets on the Internet and fully disclose administrative costs, executive compensation packages, and benefit payments.
- For patients frustrated by attempts to get reimbursed for insurance claims, the government would establish an ombudsman and a claims process to help them reconcile contested medical bills. The spirit of the past must be empowered by the possibilities of today.
Like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Sunday’s vote will forever be a watershed moment for the nation. Generations to come will look back to this historic vote as one where the American dream was more fully realized. After this bill passed, President Obama said, “We did not fear our future, we shaped it.” In the Declaration of Independence it says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” When our forefathers referred to “Life,” in this historic document, it meant preservation of life in the form of access to quality health care. The single leading cause of the massive health care disparities and premature death in America is access to affordable health care. It is my hope that in the years to come access to healthcare becomes a moot issue for all Americans.
New York Times: House Approves Health Overhaul, Sending Landmark Bill to Obama http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/22/health/policy/22health.html?pagewanted=1
Wall Street Journal: Consumers Would See Impact Soon After Health-Care Bill’s Enactment http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704534904575132110999558770.html
Business Week: New Taxes for Health Care Help Obama ‘Spread the Wealth Around’ http://www.businessweek.com/news/2010-03-22/new-taxes-for-health-care-help-obama-spread-the-wealth-around-.html
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Melinda Emerson “SmallBizLady” is a Veteran Entrepreneur, Small Business Expert and Social Media Coach who hosts #SmallBizChat on Twitter. #SmallBizChat is the trusted resource on Twitter to discuss everything entrepreneurs need to know about launching and running a profitable small business. Melinda’s first book, Become Your Own Boss in12 Months was released by Adams Media in March 2010.
If you’re ready to start or grow your small business subscribe to Melinda Emerson’s blog at www.succeedasyourownboss.com