Personal Finance Blog

Health Care Bill and Your Budget

Posted in Budgeting,Personal Finance by fsaffiliates on March 22, 2010
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Glued to CNN along with a fair share of others I’m sure, I watched with bated breath as the House voted on the Health Care Bill. Final count, 219 to 212 in favor of passage. For nearly 100 years, the United States has tried and failed to enact this type of legislation, and we are one of last remaining holdouts to join the ranks of government sponsored health care.  All of this, you probably already know.

Whether you agree or not with the premise of the health care bill, it will have some implications on your personal finances. Outside of health care, there are a few other components to this bill that few are discussing, save Nancy Pelosi perhaps.  One is higher education.  A second are the tax ramifications should you be considered wealthy by the U.S.  Each of these items will impact the personal financial situation for the majority of us.

This is the perfect opportunity to consider (or re-consider) your health insurance coverage.  If you haven’t had health care options up until now, you’ll need to spend some time reviewing what will become available in the short, medium and long-term.  Reviewing these choices will help you develop a strategy for selecting the best course of action to keep up or improve your coverage, while hopefully reducing premiums and any out-of-pocket expenses.

If you’ve had choices, you’ll have even more very soon.  I’ll wait ’til open enrollment, you say?  Not a great idea.  This piece of legislation has many moving parts, and it may be a case of watching the train leave the station now and having little hope of catching up to it later.  The ones who have stayed abreast of the time lines for implementation and understand all the alternatives available will be the ones that realize the greatest cost savings.  If you’re self-employed, this becomes even more critical.

The bottom line:  review your health care coverage top to bottom.  What are your premiums?  What are your out-of-pocket expenses? (If you were able to deduct these expenses from your 2009 taxes, they are likely excessive.)  What are the levels of coverage?  Are they adequate or are you under-insured?

Once you have these answers, begin comparing apples-to-apples.  Identify the coverage levels and compare premiums and out-of-pocket expenses for each of your health care alternatives.  Stay tuned to evolving parts of the health care bill, and most importantly, be agile enough to take advantage of improved coverages and cost savings where ever they may develop.

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