Happy New Year: Here Comes Obamacare
It's 2011, and as you were nursing your hangover on Saturday, new parts of Obamacare went into effect.
As of January 1, insurance companies will have to spend at least 80 percent of the revenue they make from premiums on actual health care (as opposed to salaries or overhead or advertising or whatever). Most people probably won't be aware of this new, so-called "medical loss ratio," but it will make sure the insurance companies spend more of their money helping their customers get well.
The other big provision to take effect (and the seniors in our audience will be interested in this one) is the closing of the Medicare part D coverage gap, also known as the "donut hole." Until now, Medicare recipients whose annual prescription drug costs totaled between $2,700 and $6,154 had to pay the full amount themselves (above and below that window, medicare would pay 75 and 95 percent, respectively). As of January 1, seniors who reach the donut hole get a 50 percent discount on brand-name medication.
There are 21 provisions of the health care reform bill going into effect this year. Many of them went into effect on January 1. Some go into effect later in the year. (None of them establishes death panels, by the way, so we're safe on that front for now.) There's a fantastic summary of them all at the Kaiser Family Foundation site.