2012 Changes to Federal Health Care

2012 Changes to Federal Health Care

The U.S. federal health care system saw significant changes this year. This includes benefits added to existing federal mandates like the Affordable Care Act. On the other hand, some benefits were newly announced as federal laws this year. Although there are still a few debates on some of the changes, these benefits give more health care assistance to U.S. citizens. Changes to the federal health care system in 2012 include the following.

Affordable Care Act

In 2012, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the federal Affordable Care Act. There were a few changes in the act that became effective on January 1, 2012. The value of each employee’s healthcare benefits must be disclosed by their employer. This requirement was originally to take effect on January 1, 2011, but it was postponed by the IRS in 2010. The act requires Readmissions Reductions programs to be implemented. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services or CMS will reduce payments to IPPS hospitals beginning on October 1, 2012. These healthcare facilities should minimize readmissions or they will be penalized. Approximately 2,217 healthcare facilities are expected to receive penalty with over 307 of them receiving maximum penalty.

Employee and Company Benefits from the Affordable Care Act

The act aims to target the increase of insurance coverage while decreasing healthcare spending. Staring August 1, 2012, all new healthcare plans must include preventive services like mammograms and colonoscopies without charging the employee deductible, coinsurance or co-pay. This will drastically expand insurance coverage to almost all Americans and will change how Medicare takes care of healthcare issues. Through this, the federal government will play a significant role in the nation’s healthcare policies. All residents are also required to purchase medical insurance to avoid healthy individuals from waiting to get sick before getting insurance. Those who will not adhere will pay a penalty of 2.5 percent of the total household income or $695 for each person in the household, whichever is higher. The act authorized each state to provide insurance exchanges for those who don’t have insurance plans. These people can purchase insurance under four categories depending on the coverage they need.

The Affordable Care Act is also good for companies including food service providers such as restaurants and fast food chains. The employees’ added healthcare benefits mean paid sick leaves and preventive measures like tests. Employees who are sick won’t be a threat to other employees and to the consumers. This results to cleaner and hygienic practices in eateries. The act will also result to healthier and happier employees in any business setting. Women’s preventive services are also included in the revised act. Added services in the insurance plans include well-woman visits, pregnancy-induced diabetes Screening, HPV and HIV testing and counseling, STI counseling, contraceptive techniques and counseling, domestic violence counseling and breastfeeding support and counseling. The act also helps in preventing insurance coverage denial caused from pre-existing conditions and bans active policy cancelation.

Health and Human Services or Contraceptive Mandate

The Contraceptive Mandate is a federal law that calls for health insurance companies and employers to provide health insurance plans that include contraception. Although a number of U.S. states already have such laws, the Obama administration proposed a federal mandate for all states starting August 1, 2012. This mandate gave exemptions to church organizations. However, affiliated nonprofit corporations such as hospitals are not exempt.

This mandate was announced on January 20, 2012. It requires all healthcare plans to include contraceptives at no additional cost for employees. Sterilization coverage is also included in the federal mandate. The contraceptives allowed in the coverage are those approved by the Food and Drug Administration as follows.

• Male Condom
• Female Condom
• Diaphragm with Spermicide
• Sponge with Spermicide
• Cervical Cap with Spermicide
• Spermicide Alone
• Oral Contraceptives that are Progestin-only or The Minipill
• Combined Oral Contraceptives on Extended or Continuous Use like Estrogen and Progestin or The Pill
• Estrogen and Progestin Patch
• Vaginal Contraceptive Ring with Estrogen and Progestin
• DMPA shot or injection with Progestin
• The Morning After Pill or other Emergency Contraceptives
• Copper IUD
• IUD with Progestin
• Implantable Rod with Progestin

Debates and Arguments on the HHS or Contraceptive Mandate

There have been a number of arguments regarding this mandate including those from church leaders despite its religious exemptions. At present, there are around 30 lawsuits against the mandate based on religious grounds. These lawsuits comes from different institutions including churches, charities and universities. However, the contraceptive mandate has no rule over the woman’s right to have an abortion. It only gives women the freedom to choose among a variety of contraception techniques.

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