5. How will health care reform affect my taxes?
While proponents argue that health care reform will save money in the long run, it will cost a lot of money at the outset. Taxes will probably go up somehow in order to help pay for insurance for uninsured people. But the specifics are not yet clear.
Proposals have included increasing taxes on families earning over $350,000 a year, raising taxes on alcohol and sugary drinks, and levying taxes on some of the currently tax-free employer health plans.
6. Will health care reform affect the cost of medications?
Drug costs are a prime concern to a lot of Americans, but so far it’s not clear how health care reform would affect them. There is a proposal to reduce medication costs for people on Medicare. It’s possible that the government would negotiate lower costs for other people as well, but that’s by no means clear.
7. How will health care reform affect Medicare?
Experts believe that most people on traditional Medicare won’t see a significant difference in their medical care.
But health care reform probably will result in some changes. The government may reduce subsidies to Medicare Advantage plans - private insurance plans approve by Medicare - and may change how doctors and hospitals are paid. There’s also interest in increasing Medicare coverage of prescription drugs so seniors pay less for medications.
8. Will I have to buy health care insurance?
Probably. Most experts believe that for health care reform to work, virtually everyone has to have health insurance.
Why? One of the key elements of health care reform is to stop insurance companies from denying coverage to people who have medical problems. But in order for that to work, everyone needs to buy into the system. If they didn’t, healthy people could wait until they got sick to start paying for insurance. It would be like allowing people to buy homeowner’s insurance after a fire or burglary.
To understand this requirement better, think of your car insurance. Most states require drivers to have car insurance, but drivers can choose from many policies, and select a bare minimum liability policy if they want.
9. Will I get financial help if I can’t afford health insurance?
Maybe. Even though health care reform is intended to drive down prices, it will still be too expensive for some people. To help with that, legislation will likely include subsidies for people with lower incomes.
However, regardless of subsidies, odds are that some people will still find paying for their insurance difficult.
It’s a trade-off: People with health problems who have individual insurance policies will likely pay less than they do now. People who are younger and healthy may pay more, especially if they have been going without health insurance to date.