Health Care Reform – Busting The 3 Biggest Myths Of ObamaCare

In the last few months we’ve seen a lot of Health Care Reform rules and regulations being introduced by the Health and Human Services Department. Every time that happens, the media gets hold of it and all kinds of articles are written in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and the TV network news programs talk about it. All the analysts start talking about the pros and cons, and what it means to businesses and individuals.

The problem with this is, many times one writer looked at the regulation, and wrote a piece about it. Then other writers start using pieces from that first article and rewriting parts to fit their article. By the time the information gets widely distributed, the actual regulations and rules get twisted and distorted, and what actually shows up in the media sometimes just doesn’t truly represent the reality of what the regulations say.

There’s a lot of misunderstanding about what is going on with ObamaCare, and one of the things that I’ve noticed in discussions with clients, is that there’s an underlying set of myths that people have picked up about health care reform that just aren’t true. But because of all they’ve heard in the media, people believe these myths are actually true.

Today we’re going to talk about three myths I hear most commonly. Not everybody believes these myths, but enough do, and others are unsure what to believe, so it warrants dispelling these myths now.

The first one is that health care reform only affects uninsured people. The second one is that Medicare benefits and the Medicare program isn’t going to be affected by health care reform. And then the last one is that health care reform is going to reduce the costs of healthcare.

Health Care Reform Only Affects Uninsured

Let’s look at the first myth about health care reform only affecting uninsured people. In a lot of the discussions I have with clients, there are several expressions they use: “I already have coverage, so I won’t be affected by ObamaCare,” or “I’ll just keep my grandfathered health insurance plan,” and the last one – and this one I can give them a little bit of leeway, because part of what they’re saying is true — is “I have group health insurance, so I won’t be affected by health care reform.”

Well, the reality is that health care reform is actually going to affect everybody. Starting in 2014, we’re going to have a whole new set of health plans, and those plans have very rich benefits with lots of extra features that the existing plans today don’t offer. So these new plans are going to be higher cost.

Health Care Reform’s Effect On People With Health Insurance

People that currently have health insurance are going to be transitioned into these new plans sometime in 2014. So the insured will be directly affected by this because the health plans they have today are going away, and they will be mapped into a new ObamaCare plan in 2014.

Health Care Reform Effect On The Uninsured

The uninsured have an additional issue in that if they don’t get health insurance in 2014, they face a mandate penalty. Some of the healthy uninsured are going to look at that penalty and say, “Well, the penalty is 1% of my adjusted gross income; I make $50,000, so I’ll pay a $500 penalty or $1,000 for health insurance. In that case I’ll just take the penalty.” But either way, they will be directly affected by health care reform. Through the mandate it affects the insured as well as the uninsured.

Health Care Reform Effect On People With Grandfathered Health Plans

People that have grandfathered health insurance plans are not going to be directly affected by health care reform. But because of the life cycle of their grandfathered health plan, it’s going to make those plans more costly as they discover that there are plans available now that they can easily transfer to that have a richer set of benefits that would be more beneficial for any chronic health issues they may have.

For people who stay in those grandfathered plans, the pool of subscribers in the plan are going to start to shrink, and as that happens, the cost of those grandfathered health insurance plans will increase even faster than they are now. Therefore, people in grandfathered health plans will also be impacted by ObamaCare.

Health Care Reform Effect On People With Group Health Insurance

The last one, the small group marketplace, is going to be the most notably affected by health care reform. Even though the health care reform regulations predominantly affect large and medium-sized companies, and companies that have 50 or more employees, smaller companies will also be affected, even though they’re exempt from ObamaCare itself.

What many surveys and polls are starting to show is that some of the businesses that have 10 or fewer employees are going to look seriously at their option to drop health insurance coverage altogether, and no longer have it as an expense of the company. Instead, they will have their employees get health insurance through the health insurance exchanges.

In fact, some of the carriers are now saying they anticipate that up to 50% of small groups with 10 or fewer employees are going to drop their health insurance plan sometime between 2014 and 2016. That will have a very large effect on all people who have group health insurance, especially if they’re in one of those small companies that drop health insurance coverage.

It’s not just uninsured that are going to be affected by health care reform, everybody is going to be impacted.

Health Care Reform Will Not Affect Medicare

The next myth was that health care reform would not affect Medicare. This one is kind of funny because right from the very get-go, the most notable cuts were specifically targeting the Medicare program. When you look at Medicare’s portion of the overall federal, you can see that in 1970, Medicare was 4% of the U.S. federal budget, and by 2011, it had grown to 16% of the federal budget.

If we look at it over the last 10 years, from 2002 to 2012, Medicare is the fastest growing part of the major entitlement programs in the federal government, and it’s grown by almost 70% during that period of time.

Because of how large Medicare is and how fast it’s growing, it’s one of the key programs that ObamaCare is trying to get a handle on, so it doesn’t bankrupts the U.S. Medicare is going to be impacted, and in fact the initial cuts to Medicare have already been set at about $716 billion.

Medicare Advantage Cuts And The Effects

Of that $716 billion cut, the Medicare Advantage program gets cut the most, and will see the bulk of the effects. What that’s going to do is increase the premiums people pay for their Medicare Advantage plans, and reduce the benefits of those plans.

Increased Medicare Advantage Costs

Right now, many people choose Medicare Advantage plans because they have zero premium. When given a choice on Medicare plans, they view it as an easy choice because it’s a free program for them, “Sure, I get Medicare benefits, I don’t pay anything for it; why not.” Now they’re going to see Medicare premiums start to climb, and go from zero to $70, $80, $90, $100. We’ve already seen that with some of the Blue Cross Medicare Advantage plans this year. It’s going to get worse as we go forward in the future.

Reduced Medicare Advantage Benefits

In order to minimize the premium increases, what many Medicare Advantage plans will do is increase the copayments, increase the deductibles, and change the co-insurance rates. In order to keep the premiums down, they’ll just push more of the costs onto the Medicare Advantage recipients. Increased premiums and reduced benefits are what we’re going to see coming in Medicare Advantage plan.

Fewer Medicare Physicians

And then if that wasn’t bad enough, as Medicare doctors begin receiving lower and lower reimbursements for Medicare Advantage people, they’re going to stop taking new Medicare Advantage recipients. We’re going to see the pool of doctors to support people in Medicare starting to shrink as well, unless changes are made over the course of the next five years. So Medicare is going to be affected, and it’s going to be affected dramatically by health care reform. Everybody’s kind of on pins and needles, waiting to see what’s going to happen there.

Health Care Reform Will Reduce Healthcare Costs

The last one, and probably the biggest myth about health care reform, is everybody thinking that ObamaCare will reduce healthcare costs. That’s completely hogwash. Early on in the process, when they were trying to come up with the rules and regulations, the emphasis and one of the goals for reform was to reduce healthcare costs.

But somewhere along the line, the goal actually shifted from cost reduction to regulation of the health insurance industry. Once they made that transition, they pushed cost reductions to the back burner. There are some small cost reduction components in ObamaCare, but the real emphasis is on regulating health insurance. The new plans, for example, have much richer benefits than many plans today: richer benefits means richer prices.

Health Care Reform Subsidies: Will They Make Plans Affordable?

A lot of people hope, “The subsidies are going to make health insurance plans more affordable, won’t they?” Yes, in some cases the subsidies will help to make the plans affordable for people. But if you make $1 too much, the affordable plans are suddenly going to become very expensive and can cost thousands of dollars more over the course of a year. Will a subsidy make it affordable or not affordable is really subject to debate at this point in time. We’re going to have to actually see what the rates look like for these plans.

New Health Care Reform Taxes Passed On To Consumers

Then there’s a whole ton of new health care reform taxes that have been added into the system to help pay for ObamaCare. That means everybody who has a health insurance plan, whether it’s in a large group, a small group, or just as an individual, is going to be taxed in order to pay for the cost of reform. Health care reform adds various taxes on health care that insurance companies will have to collect and pay, but they’re just going to pass it right through to us, the consumer.

Mandate Won’t Reduce Uninsured Very Much

During the initial years of health care reform, the mandate is actually pretty weak. The mandate says that everyone must get health insurance or pay a penalty (a tax). What that’s going to do is make healthy people just sit on the sidelines and wait for the mandate to get to the point where it finally forces them to buy health insurance. People with chronic health conditions that couldn’t get health insurance previously, are all going to jump into healthcare at the beginning of 2014.

At the end of that year, the cost for the plans is going to go up in 2015. I can guarantee that that’s going to happen, because the young healthy people are not going to be motivated to get into the plans. They won’t see the benefit of joining an expensive plan, whereas the chronically ill people are going to get into the plans and drive the costs up.

Health Care Reform’s Purpose Is Just A Matter Of Semantics

The last portion of this is, one of the key things – and it’s funny, I saw it for the first two years, 2010, and ’11 – one of the key things that was listed in the documentation from the Obama administration was: Health Care Reform would help reduce the cost that we would see in the future if we do nothing today. That was emphasized over and over again. That was how they presented health care cost reduction, that it would reduce the future costs. Not today, but it would reduce what we would pay in the future if we did nothing about it now.

Well, that’s great, 10 years from now we’re going to pay less than we might have paid. And we all know how accurate future projections usually are. In the meantime, we’re all paying more today, and we’re going to pay even more in 2014 and more in 2015 and 2016. People are going to be pretty upset about that.

Conclusion

Those three myths, that health care reform is only going to affect the uninsured, that it won’t affect Medicare beneficiaries, and that ObamaCare is going to reduce healthcare costs, are just that. They are myths. There’s nothing to them.

It’s really important that you pay attention to what’s happening with health care reform, because there are more changes that are coming as we go through this year, 2013. Knowing how to position yourself so that you’re in the right spot to be able to make the best decision at the beginning of 2014 is going to be really important for everybody.

Health Care Reform Wayback – A Brief History of Health Care Reform in the USA

Is Health Care Reform New?

As somebody who is very interested in the progress of health care reform as a taxpayer, private consumer of health insurance and services, and as a professional, I have been trying to follow the current health reform debates. I am getting a little frustrated with the lack of progress on either side of the aisle, and also by some of the knee jerk reactions by politicians and their groupies.. You would think that the current administration, and its political adversaries, had just invented health reform or the cries of outrage that sound against it.

I decided to do my best to outline some of the highlights of the health reform attempts, failures, and progress in the past 100 years or so. I am not a professional historian, by any means, so some may feel as if I left out important things or took them out of context. I am trying to be balanced, but take all the blame if I neglected something you feel is important.

Teddy Roosevelt In the 1910’s

Teddy Roosevelt ran on a very progressive platform in the early part of the last century. His campaign promises for 1912 included protection for workers safety on the job women’s right to vote, and a national health care program. He was president of the United States, by the way, from 1901 – 1909. But he lost the election of 1912 to Woodrow Wilson. It is interesting to note that this Roosevelt was a Republic. Wilson was the Democrat. Never assume that American party politics are set in stone.

Early Models of Current Health Insurance and Cries of Socialism

In 1929, Baylor Hospital in Dallas, Texas came up with a pre-paid program for a large areal teacher’s union. This is considered one of the earliest models of health insurance. Now here’s the irony. A few years later, an Oklahoma doctor formed a farmer’s association with a pre-paid plan. Members of the association would pay into the plan, and then get services covered. The American Medical Association called this doctor’s plan socialism!

Despite this, pre-paid hospital and doctor plans continued to grow in popularity around the US. However, they usually left out the unemployed and elderly.

The New Deal in the 1930’s

Another Roosevelt, FDR, also wanted to implement national health reform. He wanted to include it as part of social security legislation. That did not work out, but even Truman wanted to set up a national fund. for health care. He figured everybody could pay in, like we do for social security, and then it could make sure that people’s most severe health needs were met. All of this was left out of the New Deal, and the AMA continued to criticize it as socialism.

Post World War II

By the end of the second world war, it became a lot more obvious that there was a big gap between health care costs and what mos people could afford. Congress did pass a bill to build a lot more hospitals. They also required hospitals to provide charity care. They had a clause to forbid discrimination on race, religion, etc. But they did allow separate but equal care, which did not always turn out to provide equal care to everybody.

In the 1950’s, labor unions began adding health benefits to their collective bargaining agreements. This really formed the basis for the group health insurance many people enjoy at work today. So group health plans became more popular, and in 1954, Congress voted to make this benefits tax-exempt.

The 1960’s

JFK fought hard for national health care, but again he was met with cries of socialism. But Medicare and Medicaid, regarded as American institutions now, did emerge despite this. Medicare is the US national health plan for seniors and disabled people. Medicaid is the national health plan for very poor people.

Despite the fact that millions of Americans had heath insurance coverage for the first time, in the 1960’s, health care spending and costs were beginning to rise.

The 1970’s – Nixon and Carter

President Nixon, a Republican, worked for health reform. He proposed a bill that would require employers to provide minimum health insurance coverage. Under his administration, money was allocated for the development of HMOs and managed care to contain costs.

Carter ran for president, and national health care was a large part of his campaign platform. Even though he won, the severe recession put these plans on hold.

The 1980’s and COBRA

COBRA is the national law that requires some employers to extend group health benefits to terminated employees for several months.

The 1990’s and The Clintons

Probably the most famous previous attempt to dramatically reform health care was under President Clinton. Hillary Clinton, then first lady, spear headed this work. You will probably not be surprised to learn that political critics of the pan delighted in calling it socialism. Experts contend that the plan failed because of partisan politics on both sides. The drug and insurance companies, and the American Medical Association (AMA) also spent a lot of time and money getting the Health Security Act defeated.

CHIPS – I cannot leave the 1990’s without mentioning CHIPS. This is the state and federal children’s health insurance program which covers millions of children from lower and moderate income families.

21st Century Health Reform

I have to credit George Bush, a Republican, with passing the Medicare Prescription plan in 2003. This is also known as Medicare Part D, and it helps fund prescription insurance for Medicare beneficiaries.

Obama ran on a platform that included health reform. It seems like it is as tough to pass now as it was during the time of Teddy Roosevelt, FDR, Truman, and Bill Clinton. Politicians are still making deals behind closed doors, and of course, people are still shouting socialism.

But some things have changed. The AMA now supports health reform. Many businesses are concerned about spiking costs of covering employees, and representatives have admitted they would like to see some reform that would help them. Even insurance companies have said they will cooperate.

Hurried, Corrupt and Evil Health Care Reform

As a concerned American citizen, I feel compelled at this time to express some strong personal convictions about what is happening in the United States right now with health care reform. In recent months and especially in the last few weeks, this has swelled into a big issue, almost rivaling the economic crisis in media attention and in many Americans’ minds. Why?

Well, for one thing, everyone recognizes that the U.S. health care system is in dire need of reform (and frankly, just about every other system in this country run by the federal government is in the same boat). The percentage of Americans who lack health insurance has grown substantially in recent years, medical costs have skyrocketed, and many people are not getting the health care they need. Health care is a complex multifaceted issue that involves both the public and private sectors and directly affects all Americans sooner or later. Thus, reform of this system is a big project likely to draw wide attention.

But more than that, health care reform is in the spotlight right now because the administration of President Barack Obama has made it a priority. “Health care reform can not wait, it must not wait, and it will not wait another year,” as President Obama famously declared near the middle of his first year in office. The president has been pushing Congress to quickly pass new legislation that would, with his signature, supposedly deliver better and more accessible health care to the American people.

I have to wonder, though: Why such a rush to health care reform? You can’t fix a broken system overnight, whether it’s the economy or health care. Reform is a major undertaking that requires careful research and accurate analysis of the situation, together with a generous period of honest public discussion and debate concerning short-term, medium-term and long-term measures that should be taken to correctly address the situation. Moreover, these elements of reform need the foundation of common moral and ethical guiding principles.

None of these requirements are being met in the current rush to draft and pass health care bills. As a result, U.S. health care reform is on the road to disaster.

So again, why this hurried effort by the Obama administration to enact health care reform? The administration has its reasons for hurrying. One is that they have a semi-secret agenda to accomplish, and this agenda collides head-on with the will of the American people. Whether the mainstream media will acknowledge it or not, there is in fact a fundamental issue even more important to Americans than the twin heavyweights of economic recovery and quality health care. That issue is the right to life of every human being, especially the most innocent and defenseless–the unborn child in the womb.

In Washington, health care reform is being touted merely as a ruse. It serves as a convenient vehicle to advance the Obama administration’s ever more urgent hidden agenda. That agenda is to increase federal funding of, and expand public access to, abortion. And this is the most important reason why health care reform has drawn the scrutiny of Americans right now.

The urgency of this semi-secret agenda from the viewpoint of its proponents becomes clear when we look at trends in recent years. Since 1993, the annual number of abortions and abortion providers in the United States has been in steady decline. U.S. voters across this country (a majority of whom are women) have built and continue to support a vast infrastructure of state restrictions on abortion, from parental notification laws to bans on state funding for abortions to sonogram viewing and waiting period requirements for pregnant girls prior to their scheduled abortion procedure. These laws, together with adoption, crisis pregnancy care centers and various outreach programs, have been wonderfully beneficial for women, for their unborn children and for society itself. Meanwhile, polls have confirmed that an increasing percentage of American citizens oppose the legalization of abortion through the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision of 1973. As of this writing, survey reports indicate that a majority of the American people are pro-life.

However, in Congress the overall trend with abortion has been moving in the opposite direction, especially since a Democratic majority came to power in 2006 in the House and Senate. In 2007 Representative Jerry Nadler and Senator Barbara Boxer introduced an infamous joint resolution deceptively named the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA). The contents of this revolting abortion bill are so evil and frightening that it could only have come straight from Hell and been conceived by the Devil himself. It would have, at one stroke, demolished all state restrictions on abortion. Moreover, this draconian bill would have far surpassed Roe v. Wade in elevating abortion to the status of a “fundamental human right” subject to unlimited government funding and support. Apparently our Congressional representatives intended to remove every legal barrier and provide every possible incentive for Americans to murder their offspring.

So a rift has opened up between the American people and their federal government on the issue of abortion, and in the past few years this rift has been growing increasingly wider. The Obama administration may have given up on FOCA due to massive public opposition (thank God), but it is still bound and determined to enact at least some of FOCA’s provisions into law-for example, the sickening concept of “abortion coverage” as a “health benefit”-whether the American people support them or not.

And what is driving this wicked agenda to ram abortion down our throats? The answer is money. Abortion is still a big, $100 million-per-year business that makes a handful of doctors and companies in the U.S. quite wealthy. But with the gradual nationwide decline in demand for killing “services” and a fervent pro-life ethic among the younger generation of Americans, abortion providers face the real threat of going out of business altogether sometime within the next decade or two. Thus to salvage a sinking enterprise, the multimillion-dollar abortion industry has turned to the rich and powerful federal government for a hand–just as the financial institutions have turned to the same government for rescue from annihilation since late last year. In both cases, the government has generously responded with legislation and fiat money. This administration is not serving our interests but the interests of rich and powerful lobby groups on Capitol Hill. In my estimation, the Obama administration is the most corrupt administration in American history.

This is another reason for the race to health care reform: President Obama and his cronies don’t want Americans to find out the truth behind their new health care policies. In a democracy, corruption has to hurry or else it can’t achieve its ends. Too much research, analysis, discussion and debate-essential for proper reform and healthy for democracy-would expose this corrupt agenda and result in its doom. The “hurried” and “evil” aspects of health care reform both result from the driving force of corruption. Transparency and accountability are crucial for the correct functioning of democracy, yet little of either is evident with our government’s rapidly coalescing health care plan.

So given the divergence between American respect for life on the one hand and governmental obsession with death on the other, our leaders are forced to pretend that they are representing the wishes of the people while they pursue an agenda contrary to those wishes. How long they can keep up this charade remains to be seen in these uncertain and unpredictable times. However, a few things are certain. The American people want affordable health care reform that respects life. Their elected representatives want a health care plan that pads their own pockets and funds murder. Sooner or later, either the abortion industry or its puppet government or both will cave in. But the pro-life movement in this country is strong, it is steadily advancing, and it is destined to win.

Health Care Reform Cons

It seems that the more discussion there is in regard to health care reform, the more discussion there is in regard to health care reform cons. Undoubtedly, there has been a need for some type of health care over haul. Now that health care reform is a reality many Americans are faced with determining the pros and cons and how they will be affected beyond simple access to health care. In this article, we’ll discuss different cons or concerns by those opposing and supporting health care reform and focus on the “biggest con of all”.

Pros typically go hand in hand with cons. However, based on numerous emails and request we’ll focus on the biggest con associated with health care reform and provide a follow up article addressing pros (aside from the following couple of pros/reasons for a reform).

1) As of 2008 there were more than forty million Americans who were uninsured.

2) A 2009 American journal of medicine study revealed that sixty two percent of 2007 bankruptcies were the related to medical expenses.

Obviously with so many being uninsured and filing bankruptcy, one would say that there is definitely a need for health care reform. However, when we take a closer look, we see different ways that the change will affect us as well as shed a light on deeper issues. First, the forty plus million uninsured individuals could be somewhat tainted in that these figures likely include undocumented immigrants. Second, of the 2007 bankruptcies (sixty two percent of which were related to medical expenses) over sixty percent of the individuals had medical insurance!

That leads us to one of the biggest cons and one that should be reviewed very closely. That is insurance ignorance (being insured without the knowledge of how your plan works). Sixty percent of 2007 bankruptcies were medical related and sixty percent of those had medical insurance. The problem here is quite simple in that individuals securing health coverage are doing so without truly knowing what their coverage means. Does that sound familiar? How about the recent housing implosion? The housing crisis stemmed from many different contributors.

However, it is a widely held view that many new homeowners simply had little knowledge of the terms of their loans and/or those who held the knowledge (lenders, appraisers, originators etc) failed to do an appropriate job in educating or even attempting to educate potential new homeowners. Many times an individual may be “covered” by an insurance carrier. However, in an attempt to have low monthly premiums, the individual may choose to have a high deductible.

A monthly premium of $100 or less sounds fantastic until a major health issue or accident arises and the individual must come up with thousands in order to meet a deductible. Bear in mind that a car accident causing the need for major medical work can cost $3,000-$5,000 per day in hospital stay alone (this does not include the actual surgery to repair the damage). In most cases individuals have no idea how much a hospital stay will run them nor do they have any idea of the bankruptcy statistics.

There are certainly other cons associated with health care reform. Some include longer wait times for individuals to receive diagnosis due to an increased number of insured individuals. However, the “pro” ponents of health care reform would say that this opens the door for more jobs. Other cons include the growth of the federal deficit and increase in taxes we pay. As well as it being difficult to administer because it is too hard to determine what type of coverage should be the minimum guaranteed.

There are many more cons to reform. However, the one that we find most troubling is the knowledge of what an individual will receive in their newly gained policy. Let’s not walk down the path of mandating insurance for all individuals without mandating certain information that must be shared with the end consumer. The statistics speak for themselves. More than half of the bankruptcies of 2007 were medical related and more than half of those individuals had coverage. It may be possible to help individuals find credit relief prior to their downfall. However, it will start with the “reformers” implementing health plans and health education based on the statistics that we currently have at our fingertips.

Health Care Reform – As of Today

It came about last week. I was sitting in a State Conference for insurance professionals. I knew it was coming and I was ready to see if maybe THIS time, I would get more understanding than I had before. There was so much coming at me with regards to health care reform, I seemed to be in a tidal wave of information that seemed to change daily. The good news is, it was not just me. The bad news is, eve n many of those people “in charge” have little to no idea what is the 2,000 + pages of legislation called “health care reform”. A few things I came away with, I will share here…as well as an excellent bit of compiled info on some recent points to keep in mind for the coming months of 2010.

1 – Don’t worry if health care reform seems confusing… it is. Many who felt health care reform would be a good thing for the United States, I feel, forgot how many cooks would be in the kitchen on this one. Sure, there were some “head chefs”, but everyone wanted to make it something good for them or the people they represented. Unfortunately, I also feel that all these “chefs” forgot to consider one party of people and that was others. They seemed to forget the masses of people this was supposed to help and instead focused on a plan so riddled with more questions than answers.

2 – Health care reform will change even more. If you thought this bill was it, think again. If anything more could go wrong in our political administration I would be shocked. I just don’t see this group of “changers” lasting much past one term in office. With that said, one of the first things that will be adjusted and changed will be health care. No matter who takes over, the bill we currently are so concerned with and the bill that would take until 2014 to completely make itself known will change so dramatically we really won’t know anything until it’s all said and done.

3 – We will be the ones to help make sense of it all. I write to many colleagues each and every week and one thing is certain… the insurance professionals will be the ones to be sure that the regular people know what health care reforms will effect the people we get an audience with. We as professional insurance agents and representatives will be the ones on the front lines making sure that our clients understand what is out there and how and/or what to do about it. If we work with companies and their benefits, we will be the ones those human resource professionals and business owners will be turning to for answers. Will you be ready. Start now and take a little each day to be more “up to date” than the agent down the street. It will help you stand out as “the go to” for health care reform answers.

4 – We all have to share. If we get some great pieces of information, we need to share it as soon as we can with as many people as we can. The information about health care reform is not meant to be secret, but many have no idea where to get it. If you get a handle on some piece of this legisltation, share it. Share it in an article or a newsletter. Share it in speech or over coffee. When we share information, we keep all the facts on the table and together we can all work this out.

Below is a compilation of some items to consider with regards to health care reform. Feel free to pass on any of them that you see fit for you and your situation:

– Retiree Health Subsidy. For plans that satisfy various application and submission rules, the federal government will reimburse participating employers 80% of an early retiree’s (age 55 and over but not eligible for Medicare) health claims between $15,000 and $90,000. This program is to be effective as of June 23, 2010, and will cease upon the earlier of exhaustion of its $5 billion in funding or January 1, 2014.

– Increased Resources. The Health Reform Bill allocates an additional $300 million to fight health care fraud and abuse over the next 10 years.

– Transparency. Effective immediately, physician practices who provide their patients MRI, CT, and PET imaging services are required to inform those patients in writing of other suppliers in the community who can provide those services. The Health Reform Bill also requires disclosure of financial relationships between physicians, hospitals, pharmacists and other providers and manufacturers and distributors of certain drugs, devices, biologicals, and medical supplies.