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So Health Reform Passed - Now What?

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This weekend, I drove past a busy demonstration full of signs denouncing our communist representatives and president.

Unfortunately, they seem not to have been successful in their pleas against the reform package, as the House ultimately succeeded in passing its reconciliation package on March 21. Now, the bill, which includes some changes from the Senate bill passed in December 2009, will head to President Obama’s desk.

While many provisions won’t take effect until 2014, many people are waiting and watching to see whether the legislation will lead to unintended consequences before the fact, such as insurance companies scrambling to deny coverage now, before they’re banned from considering pre-existing conditions.

The National Association of Health Underwriters forwarded me their official response to the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act, which can be summed up in two words: “Not enough.”

“The high cost of health care is the primary problem with our current health care system and unfortunately the ‘Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act’ (HR 3590) passed last night does little to truly rein in these costs,” the release quoted NAHU CEO Janet Trautwein as saying. ”Health care costs are rising at an unsustainable rate, and if we don’t get these costs under control, we will no longer be able to deliver the top-notch medical care that most Americans enjoy today.”

We’re working with NAHU to get a full summary of the bill’s features, but until then, the New York Times offers a spiffy interactive graphic that compares the Senate plan with the package passed last night. Of particular interest to the livelihood of an agent’s business is the exchange feature (there will be exchanges for shopping and comparing plans, but they’ll be state-based) and the lack of a public plan.

Then there’s the beleaguered individual mandate, which in theory sounds great – if you can get 100 percent of consumers, even the healthiest of healthy, to participate. At a topped out penalty of $695 per year without minimum coverage, or 2.5 percent of income, some say that’s just not enough of an incentive to urge consumers to strap on coverage unless they really need to – such as when they’re sick. And doing this, opponents argue, will only lead to higher rates for all.

What else ruffles your feathers in this bill? What do you think is workable? And where will this leave your business – and your clients?

(And just in case you’re of the extremely curious type, here’s how they voted, again according to the New York Times.)

Christina Pellett is the editor of the Agent’s Sales Journal.


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