Reform for People over 50

This article is from AARP.

What Health Care Reform Will Mean to You

A quick guide for people age 50 and older
By: Elizabeth Agnvall | Source: AARP Bulletin Today | March 25, 2010
Starting in 2018, if total premiums for your family are above a certain level a
year—including both what you pay each month for insurance and what your employer
pays for you—your insurer will have to pay a 40 percent tax on the cost of your plan
that is above $27,500 for families and $10,200 for individuals. Experts say that at least
a portion of the tax will be passed on to employees in the plans through lower benefits
and higher premiums.
My family makes more than $250,000 a year.
Starting in 2013, you will pay more in Medicare payroll taxes (2.35 percent instead of
the current 1.45 percent). That would mean, for example, an extra $225 per year in
taxes for a couple earning $275,000.You’ll also pay an additional 3.8 percent tax on
income from stocks and other investments. If you have a flexible spending account,
you will only be allowed to contribute $2,500 a year tax-free rather than the current
$4,000 or $5,000 that is typically sheltered.
I own a small business.
If you employ fewer than 50 people, you are not required to provide health insurance
for your workers. But companies with fewer than 25 employees—whose average wage
is below $50,000—can get tax credits to help buy insurance. That means the smallest
companies with the lowest-wage workers get the most help. If you employ more than
50 workers and do not offer coverage, your company will have to pay fees if some
employees receive government subsidies to buy insurance. Starting in 2014, small
businesses—or their employees—can purchase competitively priced insurance through
the state-run insurance exchanges.
I am self-employed and have private insurance.
Within a year, private insurers cannot cancel your coverage because of illness. Lifetime
limits on your coverage are prohibited. Insurers must create standardized websites to
help you compare coverage options before you purchase. In 2014, you will be able to
purchase insurance through the state-run exchanges, which should make health care
more affordable. And insurers will no longer be able to deny coverage based on
preexisting conditions or gender. Moreover, they may only charge older Americans
three times what they charge younger people. Subsidies are available for moderateincome
families to help them purchase private insurance.
I don’t make enough money to afford health insurance.
Depending on how much money you make, in 2012 you may be eligible for Medicaid,
the insurance program for low-income people. Anyone with an income below 133
percent of the poverty level—about $14,400 for an individual and $29,327 for a family
of four in 2009—can enroll in Medicaid. Also, doctors who treat Medicaid patients will
receive higher payments, so more may be willing to treat people in the program.
will be subsidies for those who don’t qualify for Medicaid.
The May print issue of the Bulletin will have an in-depth, eight-page pull-out guide on
what health care reform will mean.
Elizabeth Agnvall is a contributing editor at the AARP Bulletin.
If you would like to discuss health care reform in AARP’s Online Community,
please join the group Health Action Now Mythbusters.
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