Even though President Obama’s health law doesn’t fully go into effect until 2014, the Affordable Care Act (AFA) is expecting to cause some big changes this coming year. Health care reform has already influenced insurers to make big changes in 2012, and more changes are coming in 2013. Many employers’ open enrollment period is upon us and it’s more important than ever that consumers understand what they are signed up for and how much it’s going to cost.
Avery Johnson summarizes some of the major changes Americans can expect to see in 2013 due to health law in the October 21st article on The Wall Street Journal’s website. The most discouraging changes is the expectation of higher premiums in 2013. About 13% of employers plan on increasing the percent employees pay towards employer-sponsored health insurance. The good news is that the rate of this increase is slowing down and should hopefully level off. Plus, about 13 million Americans received rebates valued at $1.1 billion in 2012.
Another change consumers can expect to see is easier to read insurance packages. Health care reform requires plans to offer a new form called a “Summary of Benefits and Coverage” to consumers so they can easily compare plans and make sense of the benefits that are available to them. The form also includes examples to show you what each plan would cover in two common medical scenarios. Consumers will be able to compare plans in a straightforward manner and hopefully this will allow them to make more educated health care decisions.
Flexible spending account limits will be changing as well. For 2013, the amount you can contribute to your workplace FSA will be capped at $2500. Before this limits were placed by the employer and sometimes there were no limits put in place. It’s important consumers estimate out-of-pocket expenses accurately, because whatever you do not use gets lost and that can end up being a good chunk of change.
Spending caps are going away completely in 2014, but limits are being increased during the transition in 2013. For those suffering from chronic conditions that are very costly, this may come as a big relief. Before the Affordable Care Act, health plans could set an annual limit on how much they would spend on certain benefits. This caused people with expensive health care costs to pay a lot out-of-pocket even if they had excellent health insurance.
These are just a few of the expected changes coming in 2013, and even more will be coming in 2014. Of course, time will tell if health care reform makes it to 2014. If Governor Romney is elected President in next month’s election, this course of action could drastically change health care reform.
Written by Sam Tabes
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Tags: employer sponsored health insurance, flexible spending accounts, health care reform, health insurance news, health insurance trends