Our ThirdAge health-care expert, Barbara Bronson Gray, talks about howThursday’s landmark ruling on health care could affect you personally:
If you’re like most people, the news commentary on the implications of the Supreme Court ruling on the future of the Affordable Care Act has left you in the dust. What are the most important things you should know?
In brief, there are short-term and long-term implications.
Until after the presidential election, you’re unlikely to see much change at all. During the campaign, look for comments by all the candidates – for President and Congress – about what they envision for healthcare reform.
Since it passed, the law has been gradually going into effect, and the Supreme Court ruling means that the process will now continue. If you have an adult child under the age of 26 covered under your health insurance policy, that won’t change. If you’re covered under Medicare, you’ll continue to get a discount on prescription drugs.
If you have health insurance coverage from an employer, you’re likely to see co-payments go up, and you may see your monthly costs continue to rise. If you buy health insurance directly, expect to see costs increase, too. While more preventive services may be added, and any out-of-pocket costs may be included soon, insurance companies will most likely be passing the cost on to you in higher monthly premiums, experts say.
In the long run, the system could change much more drastically. Most of the mandates don’t begin until 2014. If Romney wins and there’s a Republican-leaning Congress, expect an attempt at repealing the Affordable Care Act and probably emphasis on creating more mechanisms for health savings accounts and creative alternatives. Some of the popular benefits in the current law may be kept.
If Obama wins, the implementation of the law will continue, of course. If you’re been without insurance, be prepared to pay a fine, starting at $95 a year or as much as 1% of your annual income.
If you’ve been participating in Medicaid, the implications of the Supreme Court decision are not fully understood yet. It’s unclear how much direction the federal government can have in how states will implement their insurance programs for people with low incomes. In fact, some pundits say that this issue could be crucial since the success of the Affordable Care Act depends, at least in part, in cost savings related to Medicaid that the ruling seems to have eliminated.
Some of the law’s provisions – like moving to electronic medical records – may take a long time to see implemented.
You could see more decisions about what will be included in coverage made at the federal level. This could have positive and negative impact on your health care, depending on your situation.
A few things certainly will not change:
· It will continue to be important that you be as knowledgeable as possible about any diseases or conditions you have. Get informed and stay informed.
· Especially in this time of pervasive system modification, it will be important that you keep copies of your healthcare tests and summaries of your procedures. You will most likely be the single source of a complete medical record.
· You’ll still need to ask questions of your healthcare providers to make sure that you understand their plans for your care and agree with the approach. Be ready to make key decisions and keep asking about options.
· Discovering high quality facilities – hospitals, surgical centers, labs, diagnostic centers, clinics – will still be important, and finding accurate quality measures will continue to be a challenge.
· Taking care of the basics – getting plenty of exercise, managing your stress, eating right – will always be your responsibility. Don’t wait for someone else to tell you; start managing your day-to-day habits for a healthy future now.
Barbara Bronson Gray, RN, MN, is the founder of the blog www.bodboss.com, which is “dedicated to helping people learn to be the CEO of their own body and better guide their own health care.” Besides her hands-on work as both a nurse and administrator in hospitals, Barbara writes for a number of national magazines and newspapers. Follow her on Twitter: @bbgrayrn.