Monday, March 29, 2010

Unsure about how health reform affects you? Start here

Some great resources exist that make dissecting the health care bill much less intimidating.

If you've been paying attention the last week, you've probably quickly realized that just because health care reform became the law of the land, the myths and misunderstandings about the bill, and how it will affect people's lives, still remain. As the New York Times pointed out, “While some of the more outlandish rumors may dissipate, it is likely that misperceptions will linger for years, hindering substantive debate over the merits of the country’s new health care system. The reasons are rooted in human psychology.” People are inclined to believe things that confirm their already existing views, which is why if someone believes something about the health care bill – true or not – it's difficult to convince him otherwise.

But for people who really want to know what the bill entails, when certain provisions will go into effect and how it will play a role in their personal care, there are good resources out there that are worth seeking out.

Of course, the most official resource is the government itself, and the Department of Health and Human Services will play a key role in informing the public about the bill, and about how to obtain coverage for those who need it. At http://www.healthreform.gov, new updates and news should be available as it happens.

The Kaiser Family Foundation's health reform subsidy calculator is also a great tool. It “illustrates premiums and government assistance provided under the health reform bills originally passed by the House and Senate and the final legislation for people under age 65 who purchase coverage on their own in an Exchange and are not covered through their employer, Medicare or Medicaid.” If you're not receiving health insurance through an employer, it's a good way to get an understanding of how much you're likely to pay through the exchange.

This New York Times graphic is also worth checking out – it is easy to follow and allows for multitude scenarios. Virtually everyone should be able to get a better understanding of how they'll be affected by checking it out.

As with any complex issue, (shameless plug for the journalism profession ahead!) it is a good idea simply to read about the developments every day (or close to it) in a publication you trust. You might not understand each provision, or each story every day, but ultimately you'll be creating for yourself a foundation of knowledge that will build over time.

Photo credit: White House

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