Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Health-Care Law Provisions Taking Effect in 2011

The Health-Care Law Provisions Taking Effect in 2011

Parts of the uncatchily named Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka the health-care overhaul law, began to kick in earlier this year. But in 2011, other provisions will roll out — some as soon as January 1.

The Kaiser Family Foundation counts 21 provisions taking effect next year. Among them:

* The requirement that the proportion of premium dollars spent on medical care must amount to at least 80% for small business plans and 85% for large group plans will kick in. The so-called medical loss ratio was the subject of discussion and lobbying this year as insurers jockeyed to meet the requirements — and to avoid paying consumers rebates if they don’t.
* It’s the beginning of the end for the Medicare prescription-drug “doughnut hole.” Next year drug makers will provide a 50% discount on brand-name medications that fall into that coverage gap. Federal subsidies for generics will also begin.
* For Medicare beneficiaries, there will be no cost-sharing for certain preventive health services that receive an A or B rating from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Here’s where you can find the USPSTF’s recommendations.
* You won’t be able to pay for OTC drugs out of your flexible spending account, unless those drugs have been prescribed by a physician. (There are some exceptions.) We wrote recently about the change and how to figure out what’s eligible. The same applies to health reimbursement accounts.
* Calorie counts and other nutritional information will be posted on chain-restaurant menus and on food sold via vending machines.

The health-care overhaul law’s major provisions — such as the mandate that almost everyone purchase insurance, the requirement that insurers accept all comers and the establishment of state-based insurance exchanges — don’t take effect until 2014. Here’s the Obama administration’s own timeline on the implementation of the law.

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