Time to Get Ready for Next Year’s Healthcare Changes
As 2014 approaches, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will bring many changes not only for American citizens, but also for doctors and insurance companies.
How it Impacts You
If you already have health insurance, 2014 will proceed normally. If you don’t purchase health insurance, you could incur a penalty. If you purchase health insurance through a state exchange, you may qualify for a federal subsidy if your income is less than 400 percent of the federal poverty level. That’s around $43,000 per year for singles, and $92,000 for families. There are two types of subsidies:
Premium Assistance Tax Credit: These reduce the amount you pay for healthcare through tax credits. The amount is determined by a sliding scale based on income.
Cost-Sharing Assistance: This subsidy lowers your out of pocket cap based on your income.
How it Impacts Doctors
Primary care will be the focus in 2014. Financial incentives will be offered to primary-care doctors. Overall, medical facilities will be pressured to keep practices cost effective while encouraging patient health. Funds have also been dedicated to healthcare innovation studies.
How it Impacts Insurance Companies
Insurance companies can no longer deny citizens with pre-existing conditions healthcare or charge higher premiums. Lifetime limits are banned and insurance companies must spend 80 percent of premiums on actual medical care. High-dollar advertising budgets and administrative costs will feel the crunch, but it also means lower premiums for you.
Why Retweeting May Necessitate a Retwaction
They say “Googling before you type is the new think before you speak” – a relevant reminder in a social climate where we quickly like or share Web material.
Arguably, the rule to think before you speak is most pertinent when it comes to Twitter. In the entire sea of social media, Twitter represents the most challenging can of worms. Whereas other social networks offer a private network of contacts and limit what can be shared outside that network, Twitter offers no such parameters. With Twitter, once you say something, it’s out there for the world to see and share. It’s the proverbial game of telephone for the digital generation.
Just as in the game of telephone, Twitter users can modify a tweet before retweeting it. Though this is premised with “MT” (meaning “modified tweet”), the entire meaning of a message can change with only a few minor modifications. What you initially said might not be what someone five times removed is retweeting, and you are credited as the source – even be it with an “MT” stamp.
Enter Retwact. This Web-based service helps people write and share corrections on Twitter. The platform lets users view reshared tweets and offers a series of recourse options for retractions. Users can either (1) write a retraction tweet, or (2) send an #RTRetract hashtag via the Retwact Twitter account to all original retweeters. Retractions are easily made and clarification is simplified in unison with a side-by-side tweet of the original and corrected tweet.
Give Your Child a Great Start With a New-Look Bedroom
A new school year can both frighten and thrill children. Help them cope with changes out of their control by involving them in a change they can control: decorating their bedroom.
Treat your child’s room with as much care as you gave their nursery. And now that they’ve left the crib, let them help decide how “their space” will look. Give them design books and magazines. Look at paint chips, wallpaper and fabrics together. Pay attention to their interests – they may inspire accents and decorations. Old records can become decals on the wall; sports equipment can become places to hang uniforms. Have fun together. Sure, you may send them to their room later for punishment, but that doesn’t mean re-decorating has to be a chore.
It may be their room, but it is still your house. Do your own research, and not just about budgets. A new coat of paint provides the most economic decorating change. Stick to two or three colors and avoid paints with volatile organic compounds. Pick colors that will encourage learning and relaxation – while black walls may be a teenager’s dream and a parent’s nightmare, some decorators consider it classy. Give your children a space to play and be kids. Consider banning, or at least limiting, electronic devices. If your child has special needs, ask an educator or therapist about what play equipment is best for them.
Finally, relax. Your child needs a good home more than a room – and that begins with you.
What the Individual Mandate Means for You
One thing is certain for 2014: With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), major changes are underway that affect more than just your healthcare options.
The most significant provision of the ACA requires all Americans to have healthcare. Known as the individual mandate, this portion of the bill imposes a penalty on those without coverage, but allows for certain exemptions. So, how will the ACA affect your taxes?
The Individual Mandate
Starting in 2014, your health insurer must file a report containing information regarding who is covered and the forms of coverage provided.
In 2015, when you file your 2014 tax return, you’ll be asked whether you had health insurance. If the federal government finds you didn’t have healthcare insurance and you didn’t qualify for exemptions, you’ll be issued a penalty. This penalty will be subtracted from your tax refund and starts at $95 per person and $285 for a family of three. The penalty will increase until 2016, when further increases will be reviewed.
How Do I Qualify for Exemptions?
Those exempt from the ACA individual mandate include:
- Illegal immigrants
- Certain religious members
- Native Americans
- Those with income below taxable level
- Those who pay more than 8 percent of their income for healthcare
Others participating in the federal health program may also be exempt. If you already have health insurance, don’t worry about penalties and exemptions, and if you don’t have health insurance, new state exchanges give citizens another avenue for comprehensive coverage at an affordable rate.
Whether you’ve been in support of the ACA or not, it’s here, so it’s not too early or too late to start exploring your healthcare options to avoid a tax penalty