The August recess is over, however, the debate on health care reform rages on. In addition to the lengthy House bill put forth last spring, last week Senator Baucus submitted a comprehensive Senate bill proposing significant changes to the delivery of health care by health care providers, its financing, and additional means by which health insurance can be made available. This bill would represent the least expensive of the bills before Congress: $774 billion over 10 years versus the other bills at more than $1 trillion according to the Congressional Budget Office.
President Obama continues to pound the table for health care reform in all media outlets, public appearances and weekly radio broadcasts. And the House and the Senate continue to disagree on the most fundamental issues surrounding a health care overhaul.
What does this mean for you as a health care consumer? Nothing yet. But as year end approaches, and with it health insurance decisions for next year in an open enrollment process, or as an individual purchasing health insurance, uncertainty abounds. While there are some provisions in the Baucus bill that would allow the purchase of long term care with pretax dollars from a Section 125 plan, it may or may not make the final bill. Individuals still need to take charge of planning future care for parents, other dependents and themselves. While the rules may change, the need for health care both now and in the future remains the same.
Where a large employer offers multiple health plans, take a good look at what makes sense for 2010. With very few exceptions, open enrollment takes place on an annual basis so you can always reevaluate next year. Individuals who are in the private health care marketplace should shop for their health insurance carefully as this can be an important decision going forward.
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