Monday, July 9, 2012

Affordable Care Act - the more you know

With the recent Supreme Court ruling on the Affordable Care Act and all the hysteria among my neighbors and friends ginned up by local and national media, it was good to read a commonsense and nonpolitical article addressing some of the pros and cons. Consumer advocate Stacy Johnson addressed a reader's question about the penalty and coverage and then went on to note some of the law's provisions.

While being upset by all the hype about the penalty, most people I know are supportive of well-known provisions of the law - for example, allowing children to stay on the parents' policy until age 26 and forbidding the big insurance companies from cherry-picking by denying or dumping people with preexisting conditions. As more of the law's provisions become known, this bird predicts the law will gain even more support.

Stacy's MoneyTalksNews post included information about a provision of the Affordable Care Act that I've found very few people knew about, but when informed, they think is a great idea - insurance companies are required to spend 80-85% of gross income on health care for customers and not on bureaucracy, CEO pay, or stockholder dividends. Failing to meet this requirement, means the company will have to send rebates to policyholders. The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates the rebates to businesses and consumers could be as much as $1.3 billion in 2012 alone.

Anytime you are discussing the big health insurance companies, cynicism rolls through the brain like sweat off the brow during the recent heatwave - creative accounting and smoke and mirrors may yet undo these good intentions of the law. But, the fact that this "anti-greed" provision is even in the law more than implies that federal inspectors will be keeping at least a cursory eye on the company books.

When I brought this to the attention of an anti-Obama skeptic the clucking stopped for a least a moment. Seems even Tea Partiers and Occupy folks can find common ground when it comes to excessive CEO salaries and greed! While I don't think the Affordable Care Act is perfect and will need modifications especially during the first years of implementation, I do think there is far more good than most Americans now realize - the more you know.

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